Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘Handicapped Parking’

An Epidemic of Entitlement

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On good days, I think the world is in transition. On most days, the world is cultivating an epidemic of entitlement. 

Today I put away my handicapped parking placard. I have had one for a year. The placard swung from my rear view mirror through surgeries, non-anesthetized debridements, surgical shoes, surgical boots, 6 different antibiotics, and 7 different types of painkillers. And pain. I have needed it for the pain. Unable to walk more than 100 feet without excruciating pain.

I needed to park close by. I needed to open my car door all the way to leverage out my unbendable leg. To maneuver my sutured arm out. Sometimes I am working with one side of my body. I never realized how much I needed those slashed lines on either side and the wide parking spaces (access zone for loading and unloading) until I couldn’t move my right side (ankle, knee, hip, and elbow) and had to navigate with a plastic, metal, and fabric device immobilizing my body.

If the handicapped space was occupied or a car was parked in the access zone with slashed lines, I did not enter that Starbucks, Harris Teeter, restaurant, or hair salon. Most times the parked cars were without handicap insignia. The business owners lost my business. 

When I would ask about the situation or attempt to get the person to move their car, I was met with hostility and venom.

A woman, illegally parked in a handicapped parking space, coming out of a hair salon, the one below, shouted at me calling me an inconvenience. I HAD HER ASS TOWED.

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 At the chiropractic office below, the receptionist said, “I’m sure they aren’t our patients. What do you want me to do about it?” Well, you could say something supportive or even put up a sign to increase awareness or encourage your clients to FOLLOW THE LAW.

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While parking my car one morning, a woman in yoga class, yes, I take yoga classes, it’s cheaper and more effective for me than physical therapy, asked if I had enough room to get out of my car. She was parked illegally in the slashed access zone next to the handicap parking space. I asked her repeatedly to move. She moved her car 6 inches. No lie. NO LADY I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ROOM. YOU PARKED YOUR CAR IN THE SLASHED ACCESS AREA NEXT TO MY HANDICAPPED SPACE SO I CAN’T OPEN MY CAR DOOR. She wouldn’t move her car until the police made a visit. Now in yoga class, she sits behind me, smiling, wanting to be friends. I don’t want to be your friend. Piss off.

See I have this handy-dandy iPhone. Click click. Picture taken with license tag. Call to the nonemergency police number. They ask for information. I have tags, make, model of the car on a time and date stamped file.

Don’t ask me to be nice about this. I am not apologizing for needing that space. I am not apologizing for asking you to follow the law. To think about other people. Grow up.

I am happy you are able-bodied but, realize the world is changing. Aging. Getting more knee and hip replacements. Having more surgeries. Needing wheelchair vans. If you live long enough, and I hope you do, you or someone you love will need a handicapped parking space and the adjacent slashed access zone. Don’t park there. The other option is to park there but don’t be surprised if someone dents your car with their handicap van or takes a baseball bat to your entitled windshield. 

Having done neither, I think I have exercised remarkable restraint.

Handicapped Parking, Coffee, and Spam

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I have been going to my coffee shop for 19 years. The same shop, same people, same coffee for 19 years. Through rain and shine, snow and black ice, writing my doctoral dissertation, mourning the loss of my husband, a breast cancer scare, unfulfilled engagements and the last set of surgeries, it has been the constant – the place I go to start my day with people I have history with and love deeply.

At my coffee shop, I learn about important cultural icons, like Spam.

“There’s a sale of Spam at the Piggly Wiggly. What exactly is Spam?” I had asked in the first year.

There were a few gasps among the coffee slurpers.

“It’s kind of like bologna.”

“Have you ever had bologna?”

“No. What’s bologna?” I asked.

“Bits.”

“Bits of what?”

“Oh, sometimes, meat.”

“I think they add filler,”

“They add oatmeal and blood, like to haggis in Scotland?” I asked.

“Not really, more like fat, noses, lips, feet, ears.”

“That’s revolting.”

“Haven’t you had a fried bologna sandwich?”

“Spam is very popular in Hawaii.”

“Why Hawaii?”

“We’re not in Hawaii.”

“Does this look like Hawaii to you?” I asked.

“Not really. Nope. Not even if you squint.”

“Maybe they’re brewing Kona. Kona is imported from Hawaii.”

“Will they add Spam to the Kona?”

“Has everyone taken their ADD medicine today? Please check your pill boxes … now!” The group laughed and settled down to enjoy their coffee.

“Will some one please tell me what the hell Spam is?”

“A noun with a dangling participle?”

“Hawaii’s bologna.”

“Bologna is Spam moving at the speed of light.”

We pondered that for a while.

“Bologna flattens out and then Spam can feed many hungry people.”

“Maybe there are a lot of hungry people in Hawaii. Subs or hoagies for lunch?”

These interactions are why I love my coffee shop friends but last week, the coffee shop let me down in a big way.

As some of you know, I have not had a great spring or summer dealing with a muscle reattachment surgery (went well after some painful weeks) and multiple foot surgeries, debridement procedures (think excruciating surgery without anesthesia), and infections. In the morning, I can barely walk. I hobble; yes hobble, to my coffee shop. Sometimes in an enormous, clumsy surgical shoe. Around 11 am my foot starts to feel okay (the painkillers kick in) but until then, I am in some pretty significant pain.

My coffee shop friends have helped me get through it. They talk to me, buck me up when I am blue, celebrate the little victories (never, ever going back to that surgeon – he’s a schmuck) and I do the same for them.

But it is predicated on being to get to the coffee shop. For that, I have a Handicapped-parking sticker. It took a lot of guts to get this – I have prided myself on being self-sufficient. I cry each time I have to renew it thinking my independence is slipping away.

Last week, the Handicap parking spaces were full. I had to limp, tears in my eyes, from a space about 200 yards away to the coffee shop backdoor. In one of the Handicapped-parking spaces, a man get out of his SUV taxi, no Handicap sticker front or back on his car, and walked around the building. I shuffled in, sat down with my friends, and saw the man lit a cigarette while watching the traffic through the shop’s front window. Feeling nauseous with pain and unable to focus enough to do more than sip a coffee, I decided it was the establishment’s job to deal with the illegal activity.

At this point, I told the manager of the coffee shop about the situation. She nodded and went back to work. The man came into the coffee shop and bought some coffee. The SUV was still parked in the Handicap space when I left. For half an hour, the manager had not made any attempt to check out the situation or handle my concern.

I have to think about this. This coffee shop is an important social gathering place in my life but it doesn’t appear to value me as a customer.

The take-away:

1) Do not park in a Handicapped-parking space unless you have a reason and a sticker. I spent an hour at the DMV on two different occasions getting a bloody Handicapped-parking sticker (standing – on my bad foot – the DMV does not let you sit down). The ability to park nearby is the difference between whether I go to a place or go somewhere else. And I need my coffee and coffee friends.

2) If someone tells you they need help, what I did with the coffee shop manager, then help him or her, contact someone who can, or tell them you can’t help them. Pay them the respect of being honest.

3) Don’t get between me and my coffee or me and my friends. Ever. I have three surgical boots and I’m not afraid to kick you with one.

Off to get my latte, among friends but minus the Spam, and talk to the coffee shop management.

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