You Can’t Park There!

Handicapped parking is something we can all relate to in one way or another.   We either park in handicapped spaces ourselves, know someone that uses handicapped parking or have seen complete strangers use handicapped parking.  Unless you are handicapped and depend on those spaces, sometimes it’s easy for people to pass judgment on the disabled people that really need it.  It is truly sad and disrespectful how others who don’t know the handicapped person or know their true situation are quick to judge those of us with invisible disabilities; they are the first to say, “Look how young they are; they sure don’t look handicapped” or, “If they can walk and go shopping then they don’t have a right to be parking in a handicapped space.” Some of our disabilities are visual, while others have handicaps not seen by the naked eye.  Being disabled is tough enough, but having an invisible disability can be an added pressure.   In most cases we feel the need to explain, prove, demonstrate SOMETHING that validates our disability to the many judgmental and ignorant people who watch with spiteful eyes as we exit our vehicle after parking in a handicapped space.  Many people need to see a wheelchair or a walker to confirm what they think is a real disability.  We need to teach people to realize that many disabilities and afflictions are unseen and that doesn’t make them any less REAL.

I was able to experience firsthand the pure rudeness and judgmental behavior toward my own disability.  I was on vacation in Morro Bay, CA and parked along the street in 2 hour parking;  I put up my handicapped placard.  As most of you know, you can put your handicapped card up and park all day regardless of the time limit.  I was having difficulty getting around that day, and was gone 2 hours and 10 minutes.  When I got back to the truck, I was worn out and in major pain; all I wanted to do was rest.  There was a police officer standing at my truck. This grouchy, nasty, hateful lady called the police on me.  The wicked woman was telling him that I wasn’t disabled and that I had parked 10 minutes too long.  I showed the officer my license, the handicapped paper work and so forth.  All the while, this lady was calling me names and accusing me of lying about being handicapped. She was acting like I was taking away customers from going into her store, but many other store owners stepped out and helped me. I wasn’t the only ‘lucky’ person this woman has done this too; many others have been subject to her wrath.  I was judged and criticized all because I rightfully used handicapped parking for the invisible disability I deal with every day.

When I am feeling good, I DO NOT park in a handicapped space.  I actually park way outside the parking lot so I can get my exercise.  But when I’m flared up and in major pain I do use the handicapped parking.  I just don’t think I should get insulted like I did all because I’m young and my illness is invisible. Handicapped parking has a purpose.  Let’s not forget it that.  There is a reason it’s there; to accommodate those with disabilities, afflictions, diseases or illnesses.  Shame on those who use the system and park in handicapped spaces when they don’t have a placard.  Shame on those who judge the handicapped people who truly need it.

I would like to pick your brain.  How much criticizing do we have to take from those cruel people accusing those of us with invisible illness that we aren’t sick and we shouldn’t be parking in handicapped parking?  Should we just ignore and go on about our business?  Or at some point should we say something? What’s your opinion?  Would love to know…

10 thoughts on “You Can’t Park There!”

  1. Oh Renae @luvsfireflies, I’m so glad you wrote this! I had the same feelings about this same issue, as I’m sure a lot of our readers have. After I had my stroke, I could barely walk 100 feet without being winded, but I was trying to regain my strength and so I was trying to go without using my cane, but brought it with me anyway. I had a temporary placard and used it to park when I went to grad school. One time when I got out of the car, this guy saw me walk out of my car to get my books. He gave me the dirtiest stare–I knew what that meant.

    People are ignorant about anything that isn’t in their daily repertoire. I don’t blame them for wondering why we are “walking” around with ‘disabilities.’ It’s true, it is called INVISIBLE disability for a reason–because you don’t know it’s there. I would wonder the same thing!

    Many of my friends make judging remarks about people using placards and make jokes about how they aren’t really disabled. I remind them that they don’t know the whole situation and to keep ‘me’ in mind the next time they make an assumption. Most of them don’t even realize they are doing that, so it’s good for me not to just ‘react’ to their comments, and rather, educate them. We don’t know what we don’t know (yes, I know that is redundant).

  2. It sure is a tough situation Sarah. I would much rather have someone kindly ask me if I noticed I parked in a handicapped parking or what my disability was. Rather then the nasty dirty looks, and the rude names, comments was a bit to much. But like you said we need to educate people about invisible illness and spread the word. I’m glad that someone else felt the same way as I did.

  3. Really feeling for you there, Renae, if it had been me having to use a HP placard and the fuzz got called on me, I probably couldn’t handle it, with the anxiety and depression and all, I would have given up and walked off, never mind not ever going to that store again. But then again I have a mental handicap and not a physical one, so I don’t qualify anyway LOL

    Robert

  4. I understand where you are comming from but I have to admit sometimes it’s hard for people to know what a disablilty is and most people think it means being in a wheelchair or having a walker or some kind of walking aid. But unfortunatly too many people abuse the handicapped parking plackard rules by using their granmothers placard

  5. It was a shock Robert. More difficult because I have an invisible illness. So I do have to live with alot of judgement. It’s kinda like please don’t judge me unless you’ve walked in my shoes. But all they see is a young lady, that doesn’t appear ill on the outside, but in fact I probably have enough pain to cover for 5 people. But that lady that called the cops on me really took the cake by calling me names and all of that mean stuff. But I wasn’t the only lucky person she’s done that to many people who’s parked in front of her store. People like her will never understand about people like us with disabilities but hopefully others that came out that day understood my delima. Good day….

  6. Joe, you are so correct. People do judge a person by having specials aids to help them that is what identify them as handicap. But many people have invisilble illness’s and it truly is a double struggle for them because to look at them they look perfectly normal.
    And it is sad that there are too many that park in the stalls for handicaps leaving for those who truly need it to have to drive around until one becomes available or park further in the parking lot and have the extra stress and trouble.

  7. Love this piece! I’m in a wheelchair and sometimes I even get flack from people. I once had a man say to me, ” what are you doing in that wheelchair honey, you know you can get out of that chair and walk”. I was appalled!!! I think it comes down to pure ignorance and the many stereotypes and misconceptions about disabilities.

  8. Wow Maureen that is terrible. For you to be in a wheelchair and someone to be so cruel. At least I can kinda understand it when they say stuff to me since mine is invisible. But people are ignorant that is fore sure….

  9. I’ve been walkong on a cane since I was 19 years old and have had this problem with years. When I was discharged from the Army for this disability I chose not to get a permanent parking placard because of the looks and comments I received when I was using the temporary one.

    For 17 years I suffered with this disability, often hobbling into the stores and businesses from very long distances. My rhuematologist found out this past fall that I didn’t have one and told me that I was an idiot, that he was doing the paperwork for it and that I shouldn’t argue with him. I’m glad he did.

    I still get the angry looks and comments but now I’m stronger and more confident. I don’t let it phase me as much anymore and when an elderly man asked me (rudely) the other day, “what are you doing with that cane girl?” I told him, “its called serving your country, so why don’t you ask the Army why I’m on this cane.”

    Stupid people come in all shapes and sizes. It sucks that we have to educate them but its the way things will be until they start teaching mandatory diversity studies in High School.

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