~my thoughts about life~

Friday, June 10, 2011

No Parking

I've had an epiphany recently regarding parking spaces.

Ah, the parking lot, an asphalt jungle of racing cars, weaving up and down the rows, looking for the prime space to deposit one's vehicle.  Why is the perfect parking spot so important to us?  I get entertained watching folks zip in and out of the aisles for several minutes, taking a risk by passing up a mid-level spot.  They will gamble that mediocre spot and several more minutes of their time in hopes of finding that coveted front row space!  Fights will even break out over certain spots.

And then there's the handicapped space.  Gone are the days of handicapped spaces being reserved for actual handicapped people.  Now, those blue placards featuring a stick person in a wheelchair are awarded for the most mundane handicaps.  I understand that some people have ailments that are not visible to the general public.  Those aren't the people I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the people who really don't deserve that wheelchair placard; people I know.

For example, I know two women my age who each have parents with disabilities.  Neither of them are the primary caregiver for their parents but they both have a handicapped placard hanging from their rearview mirror.  And let me tell you, they sure do use them!  I jokingly called one of them out on it by saying, "Hey, you're not handicapped!"  Her answer was, "Look at me, I have four kids and I'm a mess!  Do I look well to you?"  I just shrugged.  I wanted to answer, Maybe not, but it's against the law!

Another scenario is a woman younger than me who has a slight knee problem.  She can walk for hours in the mall, but her car sits in that front spot with a handicapped sign in the window.  A friend of mine told me she is embarrassed to ride with her and is uncomfortable when the woman uses her handicapped sticker.

Then there's the woman who works at the school that parks right beside the front door.  The extra 100 feet walk from the parking lot must be too much for her but the two story staircase to her classroom isn't a problem.

A man in our church apparently has a disability, but no one seems to know what it is.  He appears fine in every way and even works on roofs.  But he has a handicapped sign in his shiny, red car.  The funny thing about this guy is that his teenage son drives everywhere they go.  He drops his parents off at the door then swings around to a handicapped space.  After service, he returns to the handicapped space and picks them up at the front door.

I'm sorry, but I have a major issue with this!  I had a grandfather with a disease I can't pronounce that caused him to lose control over his limbs.  Walking was very difficult for him; he looked like a severely drunk person.  But his pride kept him out of a wheelchair for as long as possible.  He was someone who needed a handicapped spot.  My grandma couldn't drop him off alone at a building so they both had to walk from wherever they were parked.  If they missed out on their space because of one of these people I mentioned above, I would be quite irate.

So, I told you I've had an epiphany.  It's actually regarding the rest of the spaces in the lot.  There are good spots, there are mediocre spots, and there are spots that have a different zip code from the actual building.   Those best spots are simply first come, first served.  Instead, I feel like those spots should be labeled For Those Who NEED Them. 

There were times when I needed a front row spot.  Like when I was going to my 2-week postpartum checkup with my newborn baby.  I was still not supposed to lift her carrier because of my C-Section.  I didn't have help that day so I parked as close as I could and carried her in anyway.  (Setting up the stroller would have been more physically challenging than just carrying the seat.)  Then there was the time that I sprained my ankle.  Life went on and I still had errands to run.  A front row parking space would have been divine.  They don't give out temporary handicapped stickers for sprained ankles.

I have a new mantra.  I am young, I am fit, I am well.  I am not in need of that front row space and I am very thankful for that.  So I've recently started parking all the way in the back of the parking lot and enjoying the walk into the building.  It's just me and the fancy cars back there.  Some might laugh to see a scratched up mini-van parked among the BMWs, Lexus, and Range Rovers.  But it puts a smile on my face and makes me feel like perhaps I've done something good today.  Not only did I get some exercise, but I might have saved a prime spot for someone who really needs it today.


Mimsie said...

Great post! Some of our malls now have spaces for expectant mothers and mothers with strollers, alongside the regular handicapped spots.

Hillary said...

Amen. I absolutely refuse to drive around looking for a spot. I just pull into the first one I find.

Cupcake Mama said...

I hear ya!! I was so irate this past weekend at Costco as my 90 year old gpa is too proud to let us drop him off at front but will use his handicapped plaque that he needs as it is hard for him to walk and all the spots were filled with people my age that appeared fine. It was hard to believe that all those people had ailments invisible to the eyes that could run to the free samples.