You know the topic of parking and the abuse of handicap placards that I occasionally write about? I have to share a recent incidence because it reinforces the message that we should never judge a book by its cover. Our adult daughter, who is very able-bodied, is often with us and she will offer to drop us at close entrances to places we might visit and then she will park the car. We joke that she makes a great valet. She is also considerate and even though we have a handicap placard, she will first look for another place and keep those spots open for others if it is a busy time.
But she will also use the close up spots if the weather looks questionable and we might have to make a quick dash in the rain, or she sees there are a lot of spots available. Both of these were factors yesterday when she dropped us off, and parked in one of the many open handicapped spaces.
As she joined us inside, she shared that an elderly woman who parked in a spot next to her was quick to give a piercing stare and judge out loud … ‘it takes all kinds!,’ as our daughter walked away. I am thankful that my daughter did not take the bait and engage in any sort of verbal sparring with this woman although she said she was tempted. She said would have told this person if she had seen her drop her parents off at the door, both of whom walk with the assistance of a cane, she wouldn’t be so quick to jump to the conclusion she was abusing a handicap placard or parking space.
We live in a time when it is easy to blurt out the first thing we think without taking into consideration there may be more to the story. Hearing about this quick exchange made me again stop and think about the times I have done the same and judged someone in a handicapped parking spot based on their appearance. It’s hard to refrain from doing so, but as a person living with a ‘but you look so good’ invisible disease like multiple sclerosis, I should know better.
There may be exceptions to this perhaps, such as the woman loading her small truck with the three pallets of bulk food items at the local warehouse club this weekend, all the while taking a valuable handicapped parking spot. Even with this recent experience of my daughter, I couldn’t help but size up the situation and pass my own judgement, although I did refrain from saying anything out loud. Perhaps she had a legitimate reason to use that placard, but it was hard to imagine as I watched her move swiftly to load her purchases, heaving heavy cases of water and other items into her vehicle. Giving the benefit of the doubt isn’t always easy, but it is necessary because we just can’t know the entire story.
Wishing you well,