Presumptions Can Be a Major Handicap

by admin on July 21, 2011

This happened about 6 months ago. I am 25 years old and suffer from severe fibromyalgia. I do have a disabled parking permit but rarely use it unless I am having a very bad day, due to postnatal depression and pain I am also very overweight which I am trying some way to remedy. This day I had my two boys with me, at the time aged 3 and 4. My husband is in management at a local shopping centre and this day I had to pick him up from work as his car was at the mechanic and also pick up a few things. I was having one of the worst days I had felt in a long time and the kids were fighting, I had been sitting for long periods because I am trying to finish my degree and study for my medical school entrance exams (I want to be a paediatric oncologist) and that had made my pain flare to a major level which had also brought on a terrible headache.

I parked in one of the disable carpark spots which I had not done for about 4-5 months. I got the kidsĀ  out of the car and because it was busy I walked as fast as I could manage with the kids to get out of traffic. I was about to enter the shop when a 30ish aged woman tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and was blasted with abuse for where I had parked. I was told that young lazy people should think of themselves more often and not take up spots for people who actually need them, I was told that maybe if was not so selfish I would park as far away as I could and maybe I would lose weight because being fat is not a disability and other people should not have to pay for my gluttony. I was astounded, I just stood there open mouthed with pain searing down my spine and my legs shaking with pain. I could not speak, my sons were upset and my husband came out of the shop as he had finished his shift a few minutes early. He heard the woman berating me and asked what was going on. She assumed a staff member had come to assist her and starting ranting to him about lazy selfish fat people and how I had broken the law and should be asked to leave.

When she finished she fluttered her eyes at him and gave him a grin and me a smug look to say, “Now you’re in for it.” I was in tears and my husband looked shocked. He told her that I did indeed hold a disabled parking permit because of a medical condition, and that he did not appreciate people abusing the store’s customers, even if they were not his wife. It was the woman’s turn to look stunned, she did not suspect this, as I have said I am very overweight and not the prettiest rose on the bush but I was lucky enough to find a great loving man who did not care about my looks, it just so happens that he is very handsome and although he is 32 this year he has often been mistaken for 20-21 (I am 25 but look 35 lol) so this woman refused to believe we were married and thought he was making a joke of her. She insisted on speaking to the manager, he said he was second in charge of the store and as the store manager was on holiday, until the duty manager arrived he was “it” she also refused to believe this and it took several of the staff to convince her she was not the butt of a joke. We forgot our shopping and just left to go home, apparently she did her shopping and left in a huff a bit later.

The thing is you cannot “see” my disability, and although my weight is partly a result of my disability it is not the cause. I have had evil looks from other people before and to a point I can understand because I look young and able bodied it looks as if I am just lazy. The thing is that people should not make assumptions, I may look fine on the outside but people have no idea what goes on inside. Not only was I abused in front of my family for doing something I had a right to do and had to have my medical condition exposed in public to get her to shut up, but I was also insulted because she refused to believe my good-looking husband would be with someone like me. We do laugh about it now but at the time we did not. So can I just ask everyone who sees someone who looks able-bodied park in a disabled zone, not to make assumptions, there are disabilities you cannot see. Perhaps I should have said something that day but with how I felt it really did get to me and I just emotionally gave up. 0629-11

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