Friday, September 7, 2007

Parking Space Envy

Maybe because I've been caught up in the web of discourtesy lately, I hone in on other discussions on the same topic. But recently several threads have been woven on an online writing forum concerning courtesy.

Most recently a young writer admitted to parking in a space designated for handicapped parking. Her excuse was that the parking lot was small, she had to get her children's school supplies, no one would be parking there because there were other empty handicap spaces, and she had children.

Another member pointed out that 'children are not a handicap.' Well, some of us might make an argument in favor of kids as handicaps, but agreed in principal to her rebuttal.

The reason for the woman's admission of parking in a designated space was to garner feedback on her own meltdown when she came out to find her car towed to a nearby lot by the towing company that resided next door to the store she had just visited. This happened in New York. Evidently it is kosher for private towing firms to police the parking lot and tow anyone breaking the rules. It cost her more than $100 to get her car back, in cash, on the spot. Sounds like extortion. Of course if the police towed my car or gave me a ticket in my little town, the cost would have been at least $250.

Yet, she was a law breaker -- what could she do? Call the police? She paid. But in the process she freaked out, screamed, yelled, cursed, and all in front of her children.

The problem for many of her co-list members and me included, came not in the freak out, not even the fact that she parked where she shouldn't. It was her attitude. Her jealousy over reserved spaces that only people with disabilities are to use. Her list of excuses never ceased, she tried to vindicate herself for parking there. Someone tried to help, likening it to using a stall in the restrooms that are designed for people with handicaps.

No one bought that comparison.

But still this Me-First-Mommy persisted saying 'no handicapped person in their right mind would have gone into that store with the chaos inside' -- evidently several parents and kids were there getting school supplies at tremendous mark-down prices.

But what if that person not only had handicaps, but also had children? She, a writer, a creative person, failed to see people with handicaps as people with responsibilities, children or a life....

When did this world get so me-centric that even the writers and dreamers can't see another person's situation and accommodate their needs as well?

It was encouraging that most of the people chiming in to her little thread seemed to get what this ego-centric mother did not. Yet, how could she not? It must be that adage of walking in another person's shoes.

Just a few weeks with my leg in a cast several years ago cured me of any parking-space envy. I'd much rather have a healthy body and the ability to walk for miles, than the right to park in a handicapped parking space.

I hope she realizes the truth without hobbling in the footsteps, even temporarily, of someone with disabilities.

How would she feel if she had to take her children to get school supplies, but first must find a way to drag herself to the car, then out of the car, into a wheelchair, across the driveway, up the curb, through the doors, down the narrow aisles, avoiding people who treated her as invisible or an impediment to their own destination. What would she have done if her children took off and left her stranded unable to find her babies, follow them, or keep control of them because she had only wheels for legs? Or what if her arms didn't work as well? How would she reach the displays and shelves of products? What if she had to breathe through a tube? What if she couldn't talk? What if she was wracked with pain? What if her bones easily broke....what if other Me-First Mommies simply pushed her out of the way or took her parking space so that in addition to all of this, she must also find a way to get her wheelchair out in a small confined parking space?

And what if she was disfigured and had to fight for her right to be considered human....seems a long way from parking-space envy. I hope she never must make that trip.

6 comments:

Sue said...

My reaction to that post was similar to yours.

Rick Bylina said...

Lost a girlfriend over this issue many years ago.

She parked in a handicapped spot using the, "Oh, I just be a moment." I moved the car while she was in the store. She got peeved and didn't get it.

The point isn't one second, one minute, or one hour. The point is that it is reserved for someone special who can arrive at any moment in time.

We all have blind spots, things we justify. She was, overall, a very nice person, but that attitude was symtematic of life choices that I wasn't going to be able to accept in the long run. And I hope your acquiantence finds a measure of understanding to her lesson learned without having to experience being handicapped.

Rick Bylina said...

Lost a girlfriend over this issue many years ago.

She parked in a handicapped spot using the, "Oh, I just be a moment." I moved the car while she was in the store. She got peeved and didn't get it.

The point isn't one second, one minute, or one hour. The point is that it is reserved for someone special who can arrive at any moment in time.

We all have blind spots, things we justify. She was, overall, a very nice person, but that attitude was symtematic of life choices that I wasn't going to be able to accept in the long run. And I hope your acquiantence finds a measure of understanding to her lesson learned without having to experience being handicapped.

Ruth D~ said...

My son once saw a man in a wheelchair waiting outside of a handicapped "porta-potty." This was at a golf tournament and there were two rows of smaller regular "porta-potties" available. David was quite upset when a healthy man walked out of the handicapped potty. That the man in the wheelchair had to wait bothered David who talked about it all the way home.

Marijke Durning said...

yup, yup, yup, yup, yup...

I cannot agree with you more.

I do keep my mouth closed when people who don't *look* handicapped use a reserved spot if they have the sticker or permit because may be affected by an invisible handicap. But, I do get extremely peeved when it's the drive by "Oh, I'll just be a moment and no-one is here anyway" reserved space user.

In my previous nurse life, I worked for a few years in a school with physically handicapped children. If anyone doesn't appreciate the difficulties that some families go through should spend a week in their shoes.

Dawn said...

We try not to judge the level of need. If we don't see visible signs that a driver has handicaps, we'll usually agree "they must be blind." :)

Dawn