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 }

Shalamar June 5, 2012 at 10:13 am

WOW. I will confess that I’ve occasionally given dirty looks to people whom I thought were using handicapped placards under false pretenses (I’ve been wrong more often than I’ve been right, and I have since learned to mind my own business). I have never felt the urge to commit violence, however! That man must have a lot of problems. I hope he felt very foolish afterwards (and I hope he paid a hefty fine, too).

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Gracie C. June 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

It’s never doing the right thing to berate a perfect stranger when you have no idea about their circumstances. Making assumptions about others with no information to back it up is rude. Sorry you had to deal with it, and I’m glad the police were called.

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TheVapors June 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

This makes me very sad. How many times have I read stories about people with “invisible” disabilities who are then harassed or nearly assaulted (or in this case have someone cause property damage) merely because they are judged by the way that they look. I’ve even read of people who are picking up someone with a disability who are given dirty looks, etc.

Does there need to be an awareness day for this or something? “Dear world, I think it’s great that you want to save handicap parking for those who are handicapped. However, you do not get to decide who is handicapped. If you think someone has illegally parked in a handicap spot… call the police to let them know. The police will sort out whether the person deserves a ticket. Do not assault the person, insult the person, nor damage their property. Thanks very much for your time, Common Sense.”

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Angela June 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

I don’t think you “caused” the person to get violent. The guy had no right to lecture you, let alone kick your car door. There are a lot of “invisible” disabilities and people who take upon themselves to decide if someone is handicapped or not are incredibly rude. The sixteen-year-old who picked up things for dinner is much more mature than the jerk who went off on her because she didn’t look handicapped.

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Lisa June 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

He should be ashamed of himself. I hope that idot got what he justly deserved. In our state, the fine for abusing a handicap parking space is quite steep as it should be.

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Nicole June 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’m sorry this happened to you. My mother has MS and our state has the same law about the placards. She has good days and bad days, and on the good days, it is hard to tell that she has a disability (just a bit of a limp). I’m so happy that she has never experienced this kind of rudeness because, knowing her, she would feel guilty and never use the handicap placard again, though she has every legal and medical right to do so. You don’t have to justify your disability to anyone – that is between you and your doctor, and shame on the jerks of the world.

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Frequent Flyer June 5, 2012 at 10:38 am

They guy was a bleeping idiot.

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The Elf June 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

Holy hell, he actually kicked the car! I’m glad you called the police. Even if he was justified in his rant (he wasn’t), that is beyond the pale.

I will admit to giving dirty looks or even challenging people who are not using handicapped placards or tags. If there’s a placard or tag, I assume they are disabled even if I can’t see the nature of the disability. But if there is nothing at all, then I assume an able-bodied person took a handicapped space. That does make me angry, remembering times when we couldn’t get a handicapped space when my grandmother (who used a walker) was with us.

A placard is handy for the handicapped person who does not own a vehicle or may use multiple vehicles. And then there are those laws that prohibit anything that might obstruct the windshield. There’s many reasons to put the placard up after you park.

All this said, I personally know of three cases of able-bodied people using a disabled placard or plate without the disabled person in the car. They always have an excuse: “tired”, “twisted my ankle”, or “can’t find another spot”. Funny how it’s always something. It’s cases like this that make people self-police the handicapped spots.

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halesel143 June 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

One of my best friends is a DV, and has DV plates. His disability is not visible, but it is very real. He is in almost constant pain all over his body, on a scale of 1-10, he says he’s always about a 7. On bad days, he’ll have flare-ups in certain areas, which turns walking from a painful chore to excruciating. He’s gotten dirty looks and questions for parking in the handicapped parking, and generally will ignore it. But it’s offensive; this guy served our country, and just because he doesn’t have an obvious disability, people show him disrespect.
And he’s a good steward of having DV plates; on his “good” days, when his pain isn’t at a 10, he’ll park in regular spaces so there are more for people who are in wheelchairs, have just had surgery, etc.

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Ashley June 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

It’s actually illegal in a lot of places to have those placards hanging, as they do obstruct a large portion of your view. So why he tried giving you grief for not having it on display while you were driving is beyond me.

As for kicking your car, or your moms car, no matter whose car it was, that’s just wrong.

It’s always amazing to me how much trouble handicapped parking spaces can stir up. I once worked somewhere that a non handicapped person (He completely admitted to being NOT handicapped) parked in a handicapped spot. My manager asked him if he had a placard to display, and to go hang it if he did, and if not to move his car. The guy answered “Oh I’ll only be there a minute”. Well, he was there a lot longer than a minute because he ran into a friend of his, and in the meantime, my manager called a tow truck and had his car hauled off. He started yelling at my manager. My manager shrugged and walked away and said “next time don’t park somewhere that doesn’t belong to you.”

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Just Laura June 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

I must agree with TheVapors.

I work in the office for ADA Compliance at a Big 12 University. While many accessible features such as handrails, accessible restrooms, elevators and ramps are available for everyone’s use, parking spots are set aside specifically for those people who had a doctor fill out the paper work the state requires to receive an accessible placard (laws may vary by state/parish/country).

There are people who abuse this right. I too get irritated with those who convince a doctor to sign off on it, or borrow the valid placard from their grandmother, but that is not for the general public to worry about. Because few of us have all the information, we must not confront someone we believe to be abusing the right, nor should we confront someone without a placard. The correct course of action is to call the police. It is their job to sort it out.

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essie June 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

What an idiot! Did he think that by kicking the car, he could make it get up and move out of the parking space by itself?

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DGS June 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I am so sorry you had to deal with that, OP, and good for you, for being mature beyond your years, calling the police and handling yourself confidently and appropriately.

Regarding the brutish lout who kicked your passenger door, all I have to say is, When will people learn to mind their own business?

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Sarah Jane June 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

This man obviously has problems, and they probably extend to more issues than this one. I commend you for not arguing with him.

He probably has a lifetime of police calls ahead of him. You just keep doing the right thing, sweetheart.

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Snarkastic June 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I have little faith in humanity. I suppose fibromyalgia is still a little-known disease. Enough people have invisible, but real problems caused by this. Imagine the grief they get from people like the loon in this story.

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Brenda June 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

What an utter jerk. He had no idea what your health issues might be, he doesn’t know if you’re there to pick up someone who is disabled, he has no clue at all what the situation is, in which case, barring physical danger to someone, he should keep his mouth shut and his attitude to himself.

My first husband was diabetic and having issues with his feet, so his doctor ordered a placard for him. We got a bit of attitude a couple of times, but no one ever got physical or in our faces, probably because my husband was a big guy, as in semi-pro football defensive tackle in his younger days big guy.

I find myself extremely angry because I’m sure that nasty old man behaved that way because he wasn’t afraid of someone getting physical with him.

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Hellbound Alleee June 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I often feel the need to use the motorized carts at the grocery store, because I have a number of diseases that cause sever anemia. I cannot walk very far without experiencing great pain. The drugs caused me to gain a great deal of weight. It makes me feel really, really bad. But I often don’t use the carts because I hear people complain about “fat, lazy people using motorized carts,” and I don’t want people to think that of me. They think I only use the carts because I’m fat, lazy and entitled, and must be a bad person because I let myself get fat. I symbolize everything people hate about themselves, I think.

Anyone whose been prescribed large doses of steroids will understand how easy it is to gain a lot of weight, and how almost impossible it is to lose while on the drugs. I can exercise at most 10 minutes a day, because my red blood level is such that I need a transfusion once every season. Maybe my shame is sort of a good thing, because those trips to the grocery store keep me somewhat active. But there are some days that I just feel like giving up. A normal person simply doesn’t have the funds to hire a personal shopper to do her daily chores.

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JacklynHyde June 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Hoping beyond hope that the civil case to recover expenses to repair the door winds up on Judge Judy. Can you imagine what she would do to this “gentleman”?

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Cat June 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I have a friend who would get angry with me when I refused to use a handicapped spot and she wanted to use her husband’s handicapped sign- when he was not even with us. My feeling is that, even if the person is with you, that person can sit down on the shopping mall benches while you get the car and pull it up for him/her to enter. I leave those spots for those people like you who are driving alone and who need them.

Many major illnesses are not visible. This man was obviously somewhat deranged. I hope that his arrest convinced him not to go about attacking cars because he feels the driver is wrong to park in a certain spot.

If it were I, I think I’d keep a cane in the car as a prop for my own safety. No, you should not have to justify yourself, but, given the state of our society and what is loose in it, a visible sign might deter these people. It’s better than going hand-to-hand with the local lunatic.

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Drawberry June 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

What a crotchety old fart :|

People are so conditioned to be entitled and told what is right and wrong that they don’t stop to actually THINK before they let garbage spew from their mouth flaps. I am shocked and disgusted that you had to deal with that kind of person, especially being so young. Do people really have no shame?

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Vicki June 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm

That sounds like ego and a dominance display: He’s the Man and you’re a teenage girl, how dare you not say “oh, sorry, sir” and do what he wanted?

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LonelyHound June 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The only people that bug me with “stealing” parking spots are the ones that take handicap spots and do not have a handicap license plate (my state has these) or a placard on the rearview mirror. I never give dirty looks because maybe the placard expired and they have not yet got a new one;but more often than not, for my area, it is someone who wanted to leave their car running and run into the store for a few items. Yes, I have witnessed them running in and getting their items. The other are the “For Pregnant Women or Young Families” spots. There is nothing legal that says people other than pregnant women or young families can not park there; but it does irk one when a young man with no one else in the car takes one of the spots and you have to see a very pregnant lady waddle from the back of the aisle.

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doodlemor June 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm

What a terrible, frightening experience for the OP!

What a bully! I believe that he thought that he could kick and damage her car all he wanted without penalty. He probably assumed that she wouldn’t dare report him due to his assumption that she was parked illegally. What a surprise it must have been for him, to be called on his misbehavior.

People like this are just criminals looking for a cause to defend in their bizarre way. If he weren’t hassling people that he perceives to be parking illegally, he would have some other reason for harassing others. In other words, he wants to act out in antisocial ways, and finds reasons to excuse his behavior.

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Lily June 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I’ve had someone go on a tirade at me for using my handicapped placard (and I put it away while I’m driving too). Just because I look young and healthy, doesn’t mean I am.

The cussing out is one thing (because rude people are everywhere), but the getting violent sounds to me like some mental instability. Either way, you did nothing wrong OP. Just keep living life to the best of your ability.

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Cobbs June 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm

My wife and I had an elderly, very healthy friend who was able to coerce her doctor into giving her a note allowing her to have a handicapped placard. My wife warned her God just might make her really eligible if she used it. She did and He did. She fell onto the back of a theatre seat and broke three ribs. Very painful. Then she slipped on a rug and broke an ankle and bruised her back. All this within the following year after decades of good health. Maybe coincidence, maybe not. That disagreeable man will suffer, too, I believe. I believe there is something to the saying, “Leave it to heaven.”

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Angie June 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

My mom and stepfather have run into this before. He can walk, but only for short distances before his legs give out, so his disability isn’t that obvious either. Kudos to whoever called the police on this ignorant moron.

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Lita June 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Ugh. I know exactly what that’s like, OP, and I’m so sorry you had to go through such an ordeal.

Has anyone had any experience with people actually getting angry over someone with a very obvious and visible disability, though? I’m never entirely sure how to handle that one…

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Rachel June 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

People’s sense of justice is a much more primitive feeling than their ability to look past an “obvious” truth (the general look of a handicapped person is a person in a wheelchair, that is why that’s the symbol on the placard, the ground, and the license plate).

It’s rude to go off on anyone yes, but in this day and age when there is so much red tape around everything, and people feel like the police don’t care, it’s not surprising when people take this into their own hands. The guy risked a fine to get a point across. If it weren’t a false accusation, most people would probably applaud him.

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Cat Whisperer June 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm

OP, the person who attacked your car is very likely mentally unbalanced, and I would bet dollars against a stale donut that he’s got a history of irrational and possibly violent behavior.

That’s one of the points I keep trying to make when we have stories here that are the flip side of this one: like the guy who was talking on his cell phone at the school concert, and so many people were advocating confronting him.

Sad to say, there are some very unbalanced people walking around in this world, and these people do not act rationally! And they can be very dangerous.

OP, I’m sorry to hear about the problems you’ve had. It’s unfortunate that there are people who take advantage of disabled parking privileges, and have made people wary of someone who doesn’t “look” disabled using parking spaces reserved for disabled people. (The one that really made my blood boil was some years back, a bunch of UCLA athletes who were on athletic scholarships were fraudulently using disabled parking plaques. The nerve of those people, who actually were so far from disabled that they got scholarships for their physical abilities, using fraud and parking in spaces reserved for the handicapped!)

I think there are two lessons to be drawn from this posting: first, everyone should remember that there are unbalanced and irrational people who can become violent. When you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with a person who is behaving in a way that indicates they don’t care about what other people think, resist the temptation to initiate a one-on-one confrontation unless it’s unavoidable. Always consider the possibility that you may be facing a person who could hurt you. Be safe.

The second point: if you do decide to play the role of manners policeman, for pete’s sake bear in mind that YOU might be the person who is in the wrong, that things may not be the way you think they are and that YOU might be committing an even more egregious etiquette felony than the person you’re confronting.

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Kate June 5, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’ve run into this when taking my grandmother around town. She’s 96 years old, uses a walker, and has Alzheimer’s. And while she can’t drive, she has a placard for when she’s traveling with us. Naturally, I’ll pull into a handicapped spot when I’m with her. One day, all of the handicapped spots were taken in front of her doctor’s office, so I pulled up to the front and dropped her off, figuring I’d park and then ask a staff member to watch her so I could pick her up the same way. As I saw her inside, someone in one of the handicapped spots left, so as soon as she was inside being watched by a staff member, I took the spot so I wouldn’t have to go to so much trouble to go back and get the car. Someone not realizing who my traveling companion was just saw me pull into the spot and started to chew me out as I entered the office. I simply ignored them and proceeded to reunite with my grandmother in the waiting room; once the guy saw who I was with, he went quiet pretty quickly.

I’m glad that someone called the police on this guy. You don’t reinforce other people’s manners by being a jackass yourself.

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Asharah June 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I’ve heard some places have started issuing the placards with the birthdate of the person issued to on it to decrease abuse. At least it would make it harder for somebody to abuse their 90-year-old grandma’s placard. And if OP had a placard displaying a birthdate in 96, it might save her some dirty looks from people assuming she’s abusing somebody else’s placard.

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gramma dishes June 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm

OP ~~ I confess that curiosity is killing me here. You mentioned that ‘police were called’ but you didn’t tell us whether or not this man was arrested or at least had to pay for the damage to your mother’s car. Please tell us he didn’t leave before the police got there.

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David June 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm

I second gramma dishes, my curiosity is getting the better of me as well. Did he get arrested and have to pay for damages to your mother’s car?

I am very sorry you had to go through this. Unfortunately there are some people out there who jump on the chance to bully someone in the name of ‘justice’. I hope the police were able to step in and help the man learn the error of his ways.

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Another Alice June 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm

This is what irritates me in general: the lack of acceptance that people will ALWAYS abuse systems in place to help those who truly need it. There will always, ALWAYS be people who, for example, park in handicapped spaces when they shouldn’t, or borrow a relative’s placard, or double-park, or whatever. It can be extended to absolutely any issue. Where there’s something that helps others, people who don’t need the help abuse it.

That does NOT, however, mean that every single citizen is sheriff of Any Town, USA, set out to police everyone. I’d be much more embarrassed being rude to a person with a less “obvious” disability than I’d feel triumphant at correcting a teenager who WAS illegally parked. It just is not at all worth the risk to me. At the absolute most, I’d notify a store manager that I had suspicions – but my suspicions would have to be ridiculously high for me to even make a comment. Or a simple/friendly, “Oh, you know that spot is handicapped right?”

Even with that question, though, it is not the OP’s job to explain her medical history with random strangers. There’s a placard up, end of story. In fact, that’d be what I’d say in her position: “Oh, I know it’s handicapped, I have my placard,” emphasizing the “my” to dispel any ideas that it was borrowed/taken.

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Kate June 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm

OP, that is horrible. I’m sorry you had to encounter such a boor.
I do get annoyed when I see someone park in a disabled space WITHOUT disabled parking stickers. However, if someone does have the sticker, I wouldn’t dream of challenging them even if they appeared healthy.
I only have mild scoliosis but it causes neck pain and severe headaches, sometimes so bad that I can’t do anything but take prescription painkillers and sleep. It’s certainly a disabling condition for those who have a severe case.

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Tara June 6, 2012 at 3:39 am

OP, you sound wise beyond your years, not to mention kind and understanding. I applaud you!

My mother had a similar experience once. My grandfather was in a wheelchair and my 90-lb. grandmother needed help getting him into and out of the car as he was quite heavy. My mom parked in a handicapped spot and put my grandfather’s placard on the rear view mirror before she and my grandmother went inside wherever it was to fetch my grandfather. A man approached my mother in the parking lot and shouted at her for using a handicapped spot when she was ‘obviously’ not handicapped. She shouted right back at him that she was there to pick up her father-in-law who WAS handicapped and that it was none of the man’s business. He slunk away.

Hang in there, girl! You sound like a smart cookie.

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Lena June 6, 2012 at 6:19 am

I always take my cane with me, even on days when I don’t absolutely need it, because it’s the only way to avoid dirty looks/comments when I take one of the handicapped seats on the bus.

So many people don’t realise that the majority of disabilities are invisible. I’ve even known somebody with two prosthetic legs be lectured for taking a handicapped seat, because she was wearing trousers so her prostheses weren’t visible.

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Stacey Frith-Smith June 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

Oh, what an excellent cautionary tale on the risk of assuming one has all the facts! OP, I am so very sorry for your experience. There just aren’t words to express how awful that man was. I hope he is actually jailed in addition to being fined. I hope this was a one time experience for you and that you never have to endure such an outrage again. Perhaps you should inquire about a civil suit, since he menaced you to such an extent. This story just makes me glad I wasn’t there…I’d be in ehell for sure, and probably carted off in cuffs to boot for my response!

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Office Girl June 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

In my state (NY) the placard is issued to a person and can be used in any vehicle that person is in. If questioned by police, the person it belongs to must produce picture ID to prove that it is theirs. My 82-year old, 74-pound, oxygen-dependent mother has one that we use when we take her out and about. I have had people rip me a new one when they saw me park in a handicapped spot and go into a building alone. No one ever seems to think that I might be picking her up and coming out with some one who can’t walk far, and I have never received an apology when the person sees it–they just kind of look shamefaced and slink away.

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Jay June 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

I’d really like to know if there were any consequences for this guy.. Was he still there when the police arrived?

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Angel June 6, 2012 at 8:55 am

I am appalled by this man’s behavior. It amazes me how people worry so much about what other people do that they think this gives them the right to act even worse. I hope they threw the book at him down at the police station. What a nasty piece of work.

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siamesecat 2965 June 6, 2012 at 9:04 am

I agree, he WAS a boor, and a rude one at that. Some disabilities are quite evident, but others, as yours, are not, but that doens’t mean you are not entitled to have and use a HC placard and parking spot. My mom is disabled, in a wheelchair, so its quite evident she needs the spot. I myself have gotten dirty looks when we’ve been out if I run back to the car to put packages in if we’re shopping, or if I go and get the car to pick my mom up, say if its raining or something like that. I ignore them, but if someone ever DID try and give me grief for not needing the space, you can be sure I’d let them have it, in a polite way of course. I’m glad the police were called; he deserved it and more!

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Cat Whisperer June 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

Regarding what might have happened to the guy who kicked the OP’s car and dented it:

About a year ago, a similar situation happened to my husband. He was driving my daughter and one of her friends to visit another friend, and while they were stopped at a stop sign, a man who had been walking along the street suddenly started shouting at them and kicked our car. He kicked it hard enough to put a big dent in the fender.

My husband was stunned, but his first thought was to get our daughter and her friend out of the vicinity of this man just in case he was really derranged and the assault escalated. The place he was dropping the two girls off at was just a couple blocks away, so he took them there, and then called the police on his cell phone.

He reported what had happened and gave the location where it had happened, and a description of the guy. He also gave his location, and he was told to stay there, a patrol car would come to meet him.

Long story short: the patrol car picked him up and took him to the place where the guy had attacked our car. The police had picked up the guy and had him in handcuffs. My husband identified the guy and the police took a report. (The guy had apparently been kicking cars all along the street, and several other people had called it in to the police before my husband had.)

My husband reported the damage to our car insurance company and they contacted the police. In the end, my husband had to spend several hours in court, had to twice go back to the police station in the city where it happened to fill out additional paperwork and get copies of forms, and had to spend a couple of hours on the phone with police, the insurance company, and officers of the court.

The derranged guy’s insurance company did end up paying our claim for damage to the car, but that’s all we got. And I want to emphasize that it took hours of effort and a lot of inconvenience to get that.

The guy, who had several prior convictions for drug charges and other minor crimes, didn’t serve any time in jail. He pleaded out to a misdemeanor and went into a drug rehab program in lieu of jail time.

But what I really want to emphasize to all the people who are saying that the OP ought to file charges etc.: these people seem to think that when something like the attack on the OP’s car occurs, all you have to do is make a phone call to 911, and magically police appear and take care of everything and hey! presto, everything is resolved and put right. No muss, no fuss, no inconvenience.

It just doesn’t work that way, folks. As a minimum, if you get involved in a situation like this, you have several hours of time ahead of you filling out forms, making phone calls, waiting your turn to talk to people and to get what you need to file claims and press charges and so forth. If the charges get filed and things go to court, you will spend several hours over a period of days waiting in court, and you might have to go back several times if the case is stayed or motions for delay are made or other legal maneuvers are involved.

If the attack occurs in a jurisdiction away from your home, then you’ll have to travel to whatever court has the case, which may be a considerable distance from your home; and of course since courts operate during normal working hours, if you have a job, you’ll have to take time off work to go to court.

In the end, you may get some measure of reimbursement for actual damages. But I can absolutelly, positively promise you that you will never, ever get back anything close to what it will cost you in time off work, inconvenience, aggravation, and frustration as you deal with the nuts-and-bolts of the legal system. Been there, done that, got the paperwork to prove it.

So I wish some of the people who are so cavalier about “well, why don’t you press charges/sue the guy” actually knew what they were talking about, because it just isn’t as easy to file criminal charges or purse civil litigation remedies as these people seem to think it is.

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sterling June 6, 2012 at 11:36 am

My fiance is 35 and by all appearances healthy. However a very bad accident as a teen left him with his right leg made up of pieces of metal held together by screws. This leg is also about 1.5 inch shorter than the other. Most days this doesn’t matter. But if he has been doing a lot of walking or the weather gets ugly he gets a flare up and ends up limping, using a cane and in pain or maybe just one of the three. He has a hang tag and only uses it when the pain is bad. And still people give him dirty looks. He has even been told when using his cane that hei s faking or since he is young he should let “real handicapped” people use the spot.

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Enna June 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I can’t believe this man behaved in this way. I hope he felt stupid when the truth came out. Hope he got a criminal record and sentanced etc etc. My firend at school had a baby little brother and her mum parked in the parent and my firend got out first to get a trolly – someone comfronted her and said she didn’t have a baby. She pointed at her mum with the pram and the person aplogised.

I don’t have an invisable disability but if I did and anyone questioned me parking in a space I would tell them they are welcome to report it to the police to investiage but it would be a waste of their time. If they gor really rude I’d say “such a shame that people are still prejudiced against disabled people.”

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K June 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

OP,

You are not alone. I had a case of scoliosis so severe that I have guest-lectured at several orthopedic conferences, as the fact that I was walking when I was diagnosed — and still walk after a grade 9 fusion and stabilization and being told that I would most likely spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair — is considered a medical miracle. Thanks to an amazing physical therapist and years of yoga and resistance-free pilates, I move quite normally. Unless someone sees my scar or asks me to do a backbend or notices how limited I am in reaching backward or looking over my shoulder, they would have no idea. However, most days I still require strong pain medication and walking certain distances causes a lot of pain in my shoulders and hips (my hips especially, as they were fully 4 inches out of alignment before my surgery and continue to be slightly out of alignment…my left side actually required the repair of a pressure fracture but there’s simply nothing more that can be done). I am legally disabled and do have a placard. However, at 28 and looking around 17 (my surgery was at age 12), the number of times I’ve been screamed at, lectured, given dirty looks, etc. discourages me from ever using it. Sad that the world works that way, isn’t it?

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Missy June 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I dated a guy in High School who had his grandpa’s car. It still had disability plates and he used them. I finally told him it was too embarrassing to be seen with him because he looked like a douche parking in the handicapped spots.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of a lecture when picking up my obviously disabled friend. I have to park in a handicapped space (no placard yet). I can’t have her placard when I first pull up, but I need the ramp and the extra space to load her into my vehicle. She will be holding her placard when I bring her out. Most of her building-mates are used to this and understand the logistics. It’s the random visitors who chew me out.

I guess my point is that the person parking there might be a douche, or they might have a perfectly good reason for parking there. You don’t know. Feel free to report anyone. But you really don’t know what is going on.

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Calli Arcale June 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

WOW! That takes the cake of all the handicapped parking vigilante stories I’ve heard.

The only story I can think of that sort of goes along concerns the handicapped spaces at my daughters’ school. Everybody is very good about leaving them alone if they don’t have a sticker. But, even when the parking lot has a total of two cars in it, they will park in “reserved for the administrator” spot, along the curb (which is yellow-striped to indicate no parking), and even along the striped area next to the handicapped spot (which is to provide clearance for wheelchair ramp access). They don’t want to be a jerk by parking in the handicapped spot — but being a jerk by parking in the wheelchair ramp access zone when there is a legal spot not ten feet away is apparently fine. :-D

Less amusing is when the lot fills up for an event, and people start adding their own parking spots in the driving lanes. They still honor the handicapped spots even then. Evidently that is more important to them than keeping the fire lane clear, especially when the school is packed well beyond capacity for a big event. So they know *part* of good parking etiquette. Just not all of it. ;-)

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Jenny June 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

What an idiot. Normal people don’t kick dents in people’s cars, no matter what they’ve done.

And seriously, people need to stop making assumptions about strangers! My uncle doesn’t look disabled, but after a car accident they basically had to piece his hip back together with pins. (His injury was exacerbated by the fact that he was going through chemo when the car accident happened). Don’t worry, OP, you did absolutely nothing wrong. And if that guy does that kind of thing to strangers, I feel sorry for anybody who has to live with him.

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Queen Medic June 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I must ask, seeing as this whole Handicapped parking issue comes up alot, is it far more common in America (I assume most of you are from there, from what i’ve seen) for people to cast dirty looks/scream etc at people in Handicapped spaces? I live in England, East Midlands to be more precise, and have never even seen anyone cast a dirty glance at people using the spaces, visible illness or not!

In fact, you tent to find just less than half of disabled spaces to be taken up by people who have no badges what-so-ever. My mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and was able to get a permit seeing as she can’t walk long distances, and she looks like a normal healthy person, yet we’ve never had this problem!

I do have a problem, however, with a couple who, at my little sisters school, park in the disabled spot without a permit. Now, the way I see it is that if you have a permit, you have a permit. If you don’t, you’re not eligible to park in those spaces. I think they use their son’s mental disability as a physical disability, and they park their car in one of the only two disabled spots. I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with this, but I can count at least 6 other people including us with a permit who pick kids up from the school, but not only that, they get there 10 minutes before the doors open and sit and wait! Whilst people who need the spaces are forced to park down the hill!

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