I can’t remember when I applied for my Handicapped Parking Permit, but apply for it I did. It was never my intent to abuse it, but there were always going to be those days when I couldn’t find a parking space within my energy limitations, or in winter when I couldn’t trust the uneven snow covered roads.
Take grocery shopping. There’s the walk into the store, the walking around the store, and then the walk out of the store and back to the car. That’s not even taking into consideration the lugging of groceries into the house and putting everything away in the refrigerator and cupboards. All of that takes energy, energy someone with MS just does not have. If, by using the disability parking, you cut some of that activity down, maybe, just maybe, you’ll still be worth something for the rest of the day.
I had the family coming over and needed some last minute groceries. It was a hot summer day, so one strike against me already. I parked in the handicapped spot; my only other choice was at the far end of the parking lot. I mean, come on, what was I thinking to do my shopping late on a Friday afternoon? Not good planning on my part.
I was at the back of my car getting grocery bags, when a woman came out of the store and began to unload her groceries into the trunk of the car beside me. She was not in a handicapped space, her timing was just luckier than mine that she found a spot so close to the store. I could feel her glaring at me, and I mean glaring, daggers for sure. What had I done to warrant this I wondered, and looked at her in question?
“You don’t look very handicapped to me,” she said, her disgust apparent in her tone.
I was hot and tired already, and not accepting of this woman’s derision. “I have MS.” I told her. “I may look okay now, but why don’t you wait until I come back out and you’ll see how much I’m struggling.”
She wasn’t going to concede willingly. “Then you should have a Handicapped Parking Permit.”
“I do have a permit, its right there on the visor, look for your self.”
That shut her up. She mumbled an insincere apology and hastily got in her car and drove off.
But she’d left me angry and expending more energy than I needed to because I was upset. Her comments hurt with their callous disregard and lack of understanding. There’s that ‘invisible’ disability again. We should all give others the benefit of the doubt; we can never know for sure what others might be struggling with. Not all disabilities are obvious.
Think about it. What about the woman with heart disease, the man with emphysema, or those people in pain? They are just as disabled in their way as the person with the walker or wheelchair. Who are we to judge?