Don’t Be Quick to Judge

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,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (13)
  • kkcurtis
    3 years ago

    I too have received the stares and judgements when I park in the handicapp spots. Unless you are directly affected by MS there is no way to explain how you can look well and still need the spots. As another member wrote, I try to remain as active as possible; I go to the gym and enjoy yard work but anyone with MS knows you can have the energy and strength one day and not be able to move for days after. Also I know that the fatigue, spasms and pain can come on suddenly. So when I pull up I may be fine and stupidly not use my cane only to have a flare up in the store and can barely make it back to my car. So even on days that I am feeling well I always try to park close just in case. However, I always try to be respectful of the van handicapp spots and save those for individuals who need space for their ramps and lifts. It just stinks that in addition to coping with all the challenges that this disease brings, we also need to be walking infomercials to educate the public of this disease.

  • Eden G.
    3 years ago

    My upper body strength is very strong still, however my distance walking is for the birds. I suffer from foot drop if I walk more than 30 feet. But up until 30 feet or so I walk completely talk “normal”. So watching me loading groceries in my car you may wonder why I’m parked in an HC spot. But I can’t event attempt walking in a grocery store, I use the motorized scooters, because of my 30-foot limited walking range.

    Side note: for years I used to use a HC placard because I didn’t want my car to be labeled “handicapped.” But this year I finally got over it and switched to the handicapped license plates. SO much easier, I highly recommend it.

    I’ve had MS for 8 years now, and I got tired of having to put up the placard every time I pull into a parking spot. It’s so much easier to just drive into a space and not worry whether I remembered to hang it up or not, or if people thought I was faking it, since I don’t use a cane and I walk without a limp for the first 30 feet. I use a motorized scooter inside the grocery store but I get dirty looks for using that too.. Because I’m young(ish,) normal weight, don’t have a broken leg, don’t use a cane.. You should see the dirty looks I get for using a scooter. People discriminate against invisible illnesses no matter what.
    I’ve learned it’s not worth my breath to confront them and not take it personally! It’s not worth my time. They are not going to change because of what I say to them.
    The most discriminatory people to me while I’m using a scooter are elderly people and women my age. They check me out head to toe looking for a reason I’d be using a scooter and sometimes even ask..

  • Tommywu
    3 years ago

    Nope. Your daughter doesn’t get a spot . If she’s able bodied she should park in a regular spot because she can get the car and bring it to the curb so you and your husband can get in. She has the luxury of being able to walk to the car regardless of where it’s parked and she’s abusing that privilege by parking in a handicapped spot that someone else might need. Bad weather isn’t a factor as to whether or not someone gets the handicapped spot – able-bodied people have to use umbrellas or run – remember when we did that too? It’s like when I see a person sitting in the driver seat in a handicapped spot and I ask them about it and they say their handicapped relative is inside and they’re waiting for them– You can wait somewhere else; you’re taking up a handicapped spot– move your car!

  • jackie5275
    3 years ago

    Lately I’ve been thinking about the placard. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one even though I really don’t need one. I just get the passing idea that it would be good to have for convenience sake. But as I say I truly don’t need one, however,I don’t want to jinx myself, so I don’t seriously consider getting one. Although, I may have to get one for my elderly mom. If I have to drive her, I may be tempted to use it like your daughter.

  • Isalady
    3 years ago

    I have been that person loading heavy bulk items into my car parked in a handicapped spot! If you stay and watch me walk to driver’s door after I’m done, you will see me stagger, trip, and drag myself along the side of the car. My not so invisible illness is only visible if I’m trying to get from point A to point B. I’ve also forgotten to put up my hangtag when I park in a handicapped spot, so just because a car is parked in handicapped w/out a tag does not mean that the person is using the spot illegally.

  • Eden G.
    3 years ago

    Same here, my upper body strength is very strong still, however my distance walking is for the birds. I suffer from foot drop if I walk more than 30 feet. But up until 30 feet or so I walk completely talk “normal”. So watching me loading groceries in my car you may wonder why I’m parked in an HC spot. But I can’t event attempt walking in a grocery store, I use the motorized scooters, because of my 30-foot limited walking range.

    Side note: for years I used to use a HC placard because I didn’t want my car to be labeled HC. But this year I finally got over it. I’ve had MS for 8 years now, and I’m tired of having to put up the placard every time I pull into a parking spot. It’s so much easier to just drive into a space and not worry whether I remembered to hang it up or not, or if people thought I was faking it, since I don’t use a cane and I walk without a limp for the first 30 feet. I use a motorized scooter inside the grocery store but I get dirty looks for using that too.. Because I’m young(ish,) normal weight, don’t have a broken leg, don’t use a cane.. You should see the dirty looks I get for using a scooter. People discriminate against invisible illnesses no matter what.
    I’ve learned it’s not worth my breath to confront them and not take it personally! It’s not worth my time. They are not going to change because of what I say to them.
    The most discriminatory people to me while I’m using a scooter are elderly people and women my age. They check me out head to toe looking for a reason I’d be using a scooter and sometimes even ask..

  • Senator
    3 years ago

    Believe it or not,the worst problem I have are the people who park in the handicapped spaces, and park over the parking lines. This happens quite a bit and puts a strain on trying to exit and enter my van. I have a van with a side ramp that extends out about 4ft. Many times the space for ramps is taken up, even though there are plenty of other spaces. Then the space next to the ramp has a vehicle that has parked over the line and I can`t exit or enter. My wife pulls into the space just enough so I can exit, then pulls in the rest of the way. We reverse this procedure to leave. Please be aware of parking inside the lines.

  • wiisio
    3 years ago

    In IL, in order to park in the handicapped spot, the individual who is handicapped has to actually enter/exit the car in the space. So, in IL, what your daughter did, while perhaps considerate, was illegal.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    3 years ago

    that’s an interesting twist to the law… thanks for sharing that. -Laura

  • sknarf
    3 years ago

    Saw a temporary placard last week where the date had been (obviously) changed from 2010 to 2018. I never saw the owner of the very large SUV, but I sure wanted to!

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    3 years ago

    In this kind of case you might take a photo of the vehicle showing the license plate and the hangtag and send it to your local police department. They can always track this vehicle down and issue the appropriate ticket. -Laura

  • Cari
    3 years ago

    Years ago, when my kids were involved in playing ball, the row of (pull in) handicap parking spots were at the front of the fields.
    One day, I got to the fields early. My kids proceeded to get out of the car to go to their respective fields. I decided to sit in the car and watch for a few minutes. I put up my blue tag and just sat in the car.
    This woman in a HUGE SUV pulls up, and starts telling me that (I) had to move my car. That I was parked in a loading zone (immediately I start thinking of the Airplane movies of the past). That this area (blues lines) are where the parents drop off and pick up their kids. That it wasn’t fair to expect them (the kids?) to walk THAT far. (Cross the parking lot and a little more to the fields?) These kids are playing ball, they can certainly walk a few feet.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski author
    3 years ago

    I often think people are just plain out of touch with what signs really mean. This is another good example. thanks for sharing this experience. -Laura

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