That glorious blue and white parking placard…the gateway to prime parking real estate! Special spots close to the enterance of businesses reserved for people who utilize wheelchairs, walkers, canes… People who need more room for maneuvering their wheelchairs… For vans with special ramps to accommodate wheelchairs… For people who cannot walk more than x # of feet without significant difficulty or risk of injury… That last one was definite me on my weak days!
In order to get this reserved space, your physician needs to write a letter/fill out an application and certify that you need it. Duh!
I broke down and asked for one when I was in college. I needed one for my weak days! It was extremely difficult for me to admit. When I used it, trust me…I needed it! If I could possibly walk the extra few feet or yards to a “normal” parking spot, I always would! I really hated standing out!
Well, since I don’t “look sick” and didn’t use a mobility device, apparently I didn’t look worthy…yet I was so weak and so scared of falling…each step was well thought out and calculated…under my clothes there were braces holding me together (back, knees and feet). But I certainly wasn’t going to strip my clothes and shoes in the parking lot each time I parked in those spots to show my disability!!! Who does that!? Besydes, I’d be arrested. 😉
It was hard enough admitting defeat and using the parking spot…but being judged by others makes it exponentially worse. 😦
Here’s an example I remember very well… One day, I went to the mall. A place that requires quite a bit of walking. To conserve what little energy I had that day, I parked in the reserved space close to the entetance… I did my shopping and walked all the way back to the car…feeling like I’d collapse st any second. I reached my car and was so relieved. I started backing out just before realizing I forgot to return something. One of the main reasons I went there! So, I reparked in the special spot… Walked inside, did my business and exited the mall.
As soon as I started walking towards my car, I noticed a large white van sitting behind my car. I saw his special license plates and Veteran stickers all over the back. I thought: Oh! He’s waiting for a spot! Lucky for him I’m about to leave. So, I got in my car and waited for him to move out of my way.
I waved my hand from my window to get his attention. To tell him to move over so he can take my space!
He didn’t budge.
I waited. I waited. I waited.
What the —-???
So I got out and walked over to his passenger window and got his attention. I told him he can have my spot, please let me back out.
He glared at me. He said: “NO! I’m sitting here. You aren’t leaving.”
I stared back in horror at this angry man.
He said “I saw you walk out. You look fine to me! You’re lucky I didn’t call the cops on you! You can’t park here!”
My thoughts ran wild but I said mothing. I could feel tears welling with anger and fear burning inside me.
Excuse me? Really? Do I seriously have to beg you to listen to my story and see if YOU think I’m worthy of this parking spot? You don’t know me. You don’t know what I go through! Screw you!!!
I had lots of choice words for him inside my head, but I replied (mostly) politely through gritted teeth instead.
I said “Actually sir, I DO have a reason to park here. Just because I don’t use a wheelchair and I’m able to walk does not mean I can’t park here! Are you my doctor!? No? Ok then, please MOVE!”
He got angrier, swore at me and told me I was lucky he didn’t just run me over and push my car out of the way with his van….then he finally moved on.
I was pretty shaken up. How dare he assume he KNOWS me?
Ironic how I fought so hard my whole life to hide my symptoms and now I found myself in a situation where I was having to fight to PROVE my symptoms!
It’s not ok to assume you know somebody just by looking at them. Ever. So think twice before you judge somebody by how they look.
Using that placard was NOT EVER easy for me to do. Of course I would rather feel better and not have to use it! Blocking my car and acting aggressive towards me was so upsetting… I didn’t deserve to be treated like that justnfor having an “invisible disease”…