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…