Who Is The Real Handicapped Person?

by admin on June 5, 2012

I am sixteen years old, and have been reading the blog for over two years, but I never thought I’d ever have a story to send to you until a few days ago.

I have pretty severe scoliosis, meaning I cannot walk for too great of a distance without having pains in my back. As such, I have a handicap placard to place in my mom’s car. Keep in mind that, where I live, it is against the law to keep the placard attached to the rear-view mirror while driving, so I can only put it on there once I’ve parked. I can see how this can be misconstrued, but all I’d ever gotten are a couple dirty looks, which I don’t really mind.

A few days ago, I pulled into the grocery store parking lot so I could pick up a few things for dinner, put the placard on the mirror, and started to go inside. I was stopped by a man who was also on his way in. He proceeded to go into a long, cuss-filled tirade on how lazy bleeping teenagers like me should leave those spaces for the people who really need them and how my placard was obviously a fake since I just bleeping put it on when I pulled in (never mind the state law that says I have to do that). I was a bit frightened at first, but honestly, I was expecting this kind of response from some people, so it didn’t affect me much.

I suppose it must have shown in my facial expression, though. The guy seemed to think I wasn’t “getting it,” so he marched over to my mom’s car, and with a shriek, he kicked a dent in the passenger door. The police were called, of course, but I had no idea that just being in my position could cause people to get violent. I know that people who say things like this man did think they’re doing what’s right, but property damage is not the way to get a point across! 0507-12

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

The Elf June 7, 2012 at 7:13 am

Queen Medic, we might be looking at a number of cars vs. number of disabled spaces issue. Most stores have a few spaces set aside for the handicapped, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. At a small store, you might only find one. In addition, Americans (outside the big cities, especially) have a love affair with their cars that you don’t see elsewhere. Part of that is because of the scale of this country – you just can’t get from point A to point B without a car in some parts of the nation. This large scale also produces big open highways across the country, which made the great American road trip, the American style sports car, and the big-engine motorcycle. This makes the car a symbol as much as a tool.

So, more cars needing a space to park, plus fewer handicapped spaces, means that sometimes those spaces aren’t open when someone needs to use them, throw in some selfish parking space abusers, which leads to the self-policing we’re talking about.

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Enna June 7, 2012 at 9:29 am

@ Cat Whisperer, you do have a point that it is a long process but that does not mean that people shouldn’t report vandalism to the police. That man’s car insurance did pay so I persume it was worth it in that respect. That man will be punished because his own car insurance will go up as a result – or he will find it very difficult to get insurance for better value else where. If your father had made the claim on his insurance then his preminums would go up. The man will still have an extra crime or felony on his criminal record. The danger of not reporting it to the police is that some people will and do escalate to more serious things.

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Hilary June 7, 2012 at 11:45 am

I recently had knee surgery and was given a temporary permit. I’ve been shocked at how few handicapped spaces there are at most places, and how often they are full. I find that most of the time, I still have to find a normal spot and use my crutches to get to the entrance. I don’t mind doing this, because crutching is excellent cardio, but it is quite difficult. This experience has given me much more appreciation for what the permanently disabled have to go through just to shop for groceries or visit the doctor’s office.

My husband’s late grandfather was a paraplegic who was in a wheelchair for the last 40 years of his life. In general, he’d park in a normal spot and wheel himself in, since he felt that there were people who needed the handicapped spots more than he did. He used to carry customized business cards with him when he went to the store. Whenever he saw someone parked in a spot without a placard, he would put a card on their windshield. The card had the little blue wheelchair graphic and one sentence: “Thanks a lot, a**hole!”

Much less aggressive then kicking a car door, and I think it got the point across quite well. Of course, he would only use them for those who were clearly parked illegally.

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Killerkat 74 June 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

I was blown away by your story, but not suprised. I have permanant handicapped plates. Despite that I NEVER park in handicapped designated spaces. Recently someone around my office left a nasty note on my windshield explaining they saw me walk to the office in the morning and they saw I’m not handicapped (hmm… invisible disabilities) keep in mind that I wasn’t parked in a handicapped zone. Alas, my handicapped plates were issued for a reason (not a place card). The person went as far as threatening to call authorites, which I found amusing as they were obviously involved when they issued me the plates in the first place. I ignored the note the first day thinking the person was just having a bad day. The next day I come back to my car, I find another note “Not handicapped”. Hmm.. the person evidently has their mind made up. Yet, instead of talking to me, they seem to go after my car. I was worried that I would run into the same issue as you did, so now I park my car in another place a lot further (still not handicapped zone). I don’t mind the extra walk because excercise is good for you, but I’m a strong believer in Karma that one day same will happen to them.

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WinkAndSmile June 9, 2012 at 2:39 am

I was in a car accident a while back, and suffer from pain if I walk too far. I also get dizzy spells. So shopping can be more than my body can bear. However, I did not seek a handicapped placard, since I can usually deal with it all right. It’s just shopping that gets me.

When I go shopping, I have two choices: 1) use the scooter, and face the judgement of people who think I’m just too fat and lazy to walk, and if I got off my lazy a**, all my injuries would magically melt away, or 2) walk normally, and end up fighting not to pass out before I’m done shopping.

More often than not, I take along someone else to drive me home, since I’m all right getting there, but can’t drive myself home afterwards, because I’m too chicken to use the scooter.

Sometimes I wish I could have a sign to wear, that says, “I never used a scooter before my car accident, so shut up!”

But I suppose that would be rude.

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Fung June 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I’m actually shocked to read how people often can badly react on people with a handicap, whether it’s visible or not. So much prejudice when it’s invisible! I’m glad that here in the Netherlands people are more empathic about people parking in a handicapped parkingspace, our placard must be visible at all times. No weary looks or glances when someone with an invisible handicap park there because it’s common knowledge that the rules to get such a placard is very difficult and strict. My bff has been issued a placard recently and was also very worried at first about how people would react when she parks in such a spot since her handicap is invisible. To her pleasantly surprise the reactions she got was sympathy because she’s quite young (in her mid 40’s) and people feels for her that she’s dissabled at such a young age. One man even came up to her and said to her; I don’t know you and I don’t know what your handicap is but being issued a placard at your age it must be severe what you have and watching you makes me grateful that I’m not in your position. Good luck to you. Now that’s what blew her and me away!
Good luck and don’t give a darn about what others may say or do, it’s your health and don’t chance it because some ignorants don’t know you and feel the need to judge you. Consider that the placard / scooter or what so ever has been issued for your health and comfort so use it!

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whatever June 10, 2012 at 3:55 am

a couple of years ago i tore my ACL, and had to wear an orthopaedic brace on my leg. i was ok walking carefully, but had to sit down on busses because it was painful and dangerous to my already damaged knee to have to react to the movements of the bus while standing. i was wearing baggy pants over the brace, so it wasn’t that obvious.

it happened quite often, that elderly people who got on the bus later and couldn’t find a seat would harass me because i was young (in my mid 20s) and sitting.

one woman even proceeded to prod me with her cane. all the while there was a bunch of teenage boys sitting a few seats away from me, but obviously the woman felt i was less intimidating. so, despite finding her behaviour quite rude i rolled up my pant leg and pointed out my brace and mentioned my injured knee, explaining that i really couldn’t stand, and pointed over to the teenagers and told her to please try her luck there.
well, she seemed to tako offence to my refusal, so at the next stop she beat my injured knee with her cane full strength and left the bus with an agility that surprised me, since she seemed to need my seat so badly.

on another note, i know a family with a disabled daughter in a wheelchair, and the mother carries around slips of paper that look similar to a ticket, that say “you have my parking spot, do you want my disability too?” and puts them on the windshields of people parking in the handicap spots withoute a placard.

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Lucy June 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm

What horrible people we have living in this world. OP, I sympathize! isuffer from fibromyalgia (among other things) and while I do manage to power through on most days, sometimes it’s really difficult, and sometimes I have improvise. This means using one of the scooters if available at stores/malls, and… Jus WOW. The amount of rude comments and nasty behavior I get on those occasions is more than enough for me to avoid humanity all-together. On one occasion, a store clerk even came over to inform me that I would be kicked out of the store if I did not relinquish my scooter. Enraged I demanded to speak with the GM and informed her that if Target wants to comment in people’s handicaps, they’d better start offering medical degrees as part of their training.

That’s usually what I say now, when people get on me about those sorts of things. “Oh, that’s wonderful that you’re a doctor and you have a specialty in chronic, severe pain, because otherwise I’d think you were just a busybody with control issues!”

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Kimberly June 15, 2012 at 11:59 am

I was yelled at for freeing up a handicapped space. My Mom’s health was declining and we were going to see the doctor almost weekly. She was using a wheel chair. Because I drove, I didn’t park in the handicapped spots. I would drive up to the load and unload area, get mom out, her aid would take her to the office while I parked.

The valets asked me to use the handicapped parking if one was available to load and unload MOm because of the time it took. So we pull in to the area and a handicapped space is available. We use it to unload mom – then I go to move the car. (Seriously there were 15 – 20 handicapped spaces and they were almost always full – mostly with people transporting themselves). This woman starts yelling and screaming at me for using the space illegally. Security was there fast and removed the woman. After that one of the valets or security people started walking me back to the the handicap spot when I moved the car – or helping the aid be right there when I parked picking her up. They said since construction had cut the handicapped spaces in 1/2 incidents like that were more frequent. They are now back to their 30 – 40 places around the building.

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Ash July 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Oh my goodness! Are you sure you’re not my sister? She’s about 16 and this very thing happened to her in a grocery store parking lot, only it was a woman who approached her and my sister is an amputee. She didn’t say anything during the woman’s tirade, only rolled up her pant leg so the woman could see her prosthesis. The response? “Oh good, you’re handicapped.” And gone.

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EchoGirl June 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm

” it must be severe what you have and watching you makes me grateful that I’m not in your position”.
Better than what happened to OP, but if someone said that to me I’d find it incredibly condescending. I’m also disabled (not visible and doesn’t impair my ability to walk, but it affects me in other ways), and no, I’m not a symbol of “how much worse it could be”. I’m a person living my life.

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