I feel I must revisit an age-old topic: abuse of the handicap parking space. Lately, I’m finding these things are
like a girlfriend. Every time I need one, they’re all
taken. Is it me, or does everyone now possess one of
those blue and white placards hanging from their rearview
mirror? It’s getting to the point where we may consider
uncool if they can’t figure out a way to get one.
Either they’re handing these things out like candy, or
there’s a black market for placards that I don’t know
about. I’ve heard that meth labs are closing because
placard sales have a higher profit margin.
As a wheelchair user what bothers me is that I’m the
guy who invented the handicap parking spot. I came out
of a bar drunk one night and fell over sideways in the
parking lot. A cop came up, thought I was dead, and
outlined me in chalk. Now everybody parks there.
People want to park in these handicap spots because
they’re lazy. Laziness is just a part of human nature, so
is a tendency to lie to get ahead. I know all about liars,
after all, I used to be one. (A man’s got to find a date
somehow.) It’s none of my business if you fudge your
taxes, download music you didn’t pay for, or cheat on
your diet. That doesn’t affect me. But when you enter
the realm of accessible parking, you’re coming into my
house. I’m a quadriplegic who uses a manual chair, so
every inch closer to the store matters as much to me as a
smooth, flat surface to roll on. Pushing my chair is as
hard as watching a Keanu Reeves movie, and when I’m
wheeling across that huge parking lot towards the football
game in the sweltering sun, I’m curious about
who’s taken up all those close spots.
In my years of observing the placard scam, one main culprit
stands out: the 60 to 70 year old plump Caucasian lady with
the super nice Lexis who eases into that sacred blue spot.
She usually has no visible disability, except for her poor
fashion choices. While she insists on parking close to the
entrance, it’s all right for her to walk three miles through the
mall because shopping is supposedly a noble cause.
My first hunch is to assume this lady’s husband is some
kind of doctor. I can imagine her whining, “Today I had
to walk halfway across the parking lot to get into Nordstrom
and my bunions were killing me.” Then she threatens
to quit making him sandwiches unless he fills out the
form to get her a handicap placard. Or if her husband
isn’t a doctor, well then someone in her well-to-do circle
is, and he’s willing to fill out the form in exchange for
invites to her top-shelf dinner parties.
Recently, a new beast emerged on this devious placardholder
scene: the insidious teenager. These shady creatures
will pull into a blue spot, hang grandma’s placard
on the rearview mirror, and then dash off to the food
court while I circle the parking lot for an hour. I’ll bet
they leave grandma susceptible to a stroke when she
parks in a handicap space, gets a several hundred dollar
fine, and then realizes the grandkids swiped her placard
and didn’t return it. Basically, she and I get screwed
while spry youngsters tweet their way to Forever 21.
I once went to a grocery store and noticed a guy parked
in a handicap spot. He got out of his car and proceeded
to walk towards the market. He looked perfectly fine
until he glanced back and noticed me getting out of my
van. My wheelchair must have made him think: “I got
nothing,” so he faked a limp. I had no choice but to follow
him so he would have no choice but to keep up the
charade. I made him limp down every aisle. I think I
made him weary because at one point he stopped and
pressed a frozen bag of peas against his forehead.
I not only followed him throughout the store, but everywhere
he went that day. He had to limp to the cleaners,
the 7-Eleven and Gold’s Gym. It was tough but I finally
broke him when he came out of the massage parlor.
“Okay, you win,” he groveled. “I’m not really disabled.”
“You bet I win, faker boy,” I sneered. “Now, turn in
your placard.” That was my happy ending.
I must add a disclaimer here: I do realize that some people
have disabilities that aren’t visible. My anger is not
directed at those folks, but there are a plethora of snakes
out there. Too bad I can’t look into each person’s heart
and/or know their medical situation. Still, the object
here is to weed out the fakes, phonies and frauds, oh
my! You know, the lazy leeches who abuse the system.
Yes, we all got problems, but that’s what shrinks are
for—not handicap parking spots. If I were an abledbody
person, I wouldn’t go near that spot for fear God
might be like, “So you wanna act disabled? Well, I can
fix that.” Next thing you know, lightning strikes and
you’re sitting in an electric wheelchair, mowing people
down while mumbling, “I got a placard.”
My ingenious solution is to have two color-coded placards:
Blue for physically challenged and pink for physically
challenged lite. If you use a wheelchair, walker, cane,
guide dog or have a visible defect, like dragging your foot,
you get the blue. If it’s not so clear—a heart condition,
lung problems, nerve damage—you get the pink. An
ingrown toenail, beer belly, breast implants or bad hair
day does not qualify. Be nice and play by the rules. And
remember, you have your whole life to become disabled
and earn that placard. Be patient, your day is coming.
by Jeff Charlebois
from the Andrea
Andrea Bocelli Singing to the Top
John Williams What Else You
Chinas Mao Di Clap Happy
John A. Gardner PhD His
Alnowais Corporate Social Responsibility
Ballet The Art of Sassoon
ask EARN Regulations
Humor Park at Your Own Risk
in the Andrea Bocelli Issue; Implementing the Final Rule; Ashley Fiolek
Worth the Flight Delay; Humor Park at Your Own Risk;
Geri Jewell Breath Addiction; Long Haul Paul Keeping
Cool; Shereen Alnowais Corporate Social Responsibility; ComEd
Providing Energy; OrCam Point the Way!; John Williams
What Else You Got?; Ballet The Art of Sassoon; Chinas
Mao Di Clap Happy; Andrea Bocelli Singing to the Top;
John A. Gardner PhD His ViewPlus More; ask EARN Regulations;
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