For pretty much our first year of marriage, we used a blue handicapped parking placard that had my Granny's name on it. Nothing like a little parking fraud to start a marriage off right. I assumed that anyone who saw me loading and unloading my paralyzed husband wouldn't ask.
I may or may not have used that parking placard once while dress shopping with a friend who had an aching back, but I digress.
I want to share a little story with you. I hope this doesn't stir up too much drama, but if it does, oh well. Maybe we should just talk about it.
A couple of weeks ago, Michael was planning on meeting me in the city to have dinner with some friends. Then, the plan was for us to metro back together, and drive home from the metro station.
So, that morning, I parked in a handicapped parking spot. Michael refers to these as "blue spots," but I'll call them handicapped parking spots because that's what everyone else calls them.
As I was loading my computer bag out of the SUV, a man who was walking to the elevator stopped just short of my vehicle.
"Excuse me," he said. "Are you handicapped?"
I was completely caught off guard. Was he talking to me?
"I'm sorry?" I responded, like 'are you really going there?'
"Well, I noticed that you're parked in a handicapped parking spot, and you don't appear to be handicapped."
OH. NO. HE. DIDN'T!
So, even though what I wanted to do was break both of his arms and chew his head off his neck (okay maybe that was a little extreme), thus rendering him in sure possession of a blue parking placard for at least some time, I said, in a dismissive tone:
"Oh, my husband is in a wheelchair. He's meeting me in town today, and we're coming back later. I'm parking here because I will need the space to load him."
That SHOULD have been it.
But NO, this dude went on and on, telling me that there are always lots of spaces at the end of the day, and I could always park in a 'regular' spot now, and move my car later!!
I really, really wanted to light him up with the very glamorous details of my husband's life as a quadriplegic, and my life as his caregiver, but, I didn't. I smiled, and said, "Have a nice day, sir."
Then. I took the stairs. Because that guy probably would have had a whole other lecture about me and my two healthy legs going on the elevator.
Here's the thing. Should you really call someone out who parks in a handicapped spot that doesn't 'look handicapped?' I say no way. Because what if I had two prosthetic legs under my pants? What if I had a heart condition? Or a lung condition that you cannot see? There are so many disabilities that you cannot see, people!
I know people abuse handicapped parking spots! Some people lack human decency. Some people don't follow the rules. Heck, there have been many times that Michael and I have had to park in a 'regular' spot, and I've had to back the SUV up into traffic to load him! I know this. But, still, I would never call someone out. Because that's just being overly dramatic, I think.
Because, even for us, if some 17 year old with his great-grandmother's parking placard was parked in the spot we needed, we could still get around it, somehow. And if that kid had any level of human decency, and working eyeballs, he would see the guy in the wheelchair being lifted into the SUV by his wife. And, he would feel something.
I'm not all about the forced guilt, if you can tell...
Now, back when Michael had that giant, red, wheelchair van, that needed 1,500 square feet of clearance all around to let the lift out. That's a different story.