Ignorance is bliss! Until you find out what you were ignorant of, and then ignorance is really, really embarrassing. Twice, I’ve pulled in to the YMCA and congratulated myself on finding rock star parking. Then the third time that I had this remarkable good luck I happened to notice the faded (but definitely still visible) distinctive blue square of paint that means only one thing: I had been parking in the handicapped spot.
The humiliation!! I just did exactly what I rant about all the time. But here’s the difference: it was completely innocent, and had someone pointed it out, either by telling me, leaving me a note, or even the parking ticket which I deserved, I would have first been completely mortified, then apologetic, and then taken the shame like a mature person who admits mistakes. I’ve always felt that if you are able-bodied and knowingly park in a handicap spot because you don’t want to walk too far, you might as well steal someone’s wheelchair on the way in so you don’t have to tire yourself out, either. And then steal a few bucks from a blind musician’s tip jar. Because you must not care about anyone but yourself.
This brings us to a gray, rainy Wednesday morning. Waiting in the drop-off line at school, I watch another mother pull up, scan the parking area, then settle on the handicap space. She puts on her blinkers and gets out. Now this is where you know she knows she’s wrong. Unless you are involved in an accident, blinkers are the universal sign for “I know I’m not supposed to be here but I’ll just be a minute” or “I’m waiting on someone to get in the car so please don’t make me circle the airport again.” Now I’ve witnessed this situation before. Arrogant, entitled mom decides she has the right to decide when she gets to park in the good spot so she doesn’t have to walk in the rain. I’ve had enough. So when she gets out and trots around getting her kid ready, I move up closer in line, I roll down the window and I toss out a friendly
Hi, those spots are for our handicapped drivers. Would you mind not parking there?
You get one guess how that went over. Correct, like a lead balloon. So she tosses back
and a dismissive hand wave. Not being one to let things go so easily, I’m all like
Unless you are supposed to be there, please move your car so that our disabled members and students can use those spots.
And she’s all like
I’ll move when I’m ready!
Are you kidding me right now? Seriously? That is your response? So, as fate would have it, we encounter each other again 20 minutes later on the sidewalk and have a second opportunity to finish our spirited exchange. Now, if you know you’re right, you could just politely defend your position because really, we should all be on the same team about this. But if you know you’re wrong and want to save face, you argue. And that’s exactly what girlfriend did.
I just want to let you know that I had surgery on my leg and I don’t have to justify myself to you.
Now I don’t need your medical history, but if you want to calmly state that you are, in fact, legit, I’ll take your word for it. But don’t get smart with me when I am trying to protect the interests of people who have the same problem you do (supposedly). How about a “Thank You!” to the kind stranger (me) looking out for folks in parking lots. Wouldn’t she have gained a little perspective and appreciation of my forward manner had there been someone else in the spot and she needed it due to her alleged leg injury? She wouldn’t be sassing me then.
I’m not handicapped. But I could be one day. And I hope someone looks out for me. Or I’ll have to get this bumper sticker:
So my question is this. When do you let injustice exist? When you fear embarrassment, ostracism, physical harm or road rage? Do you close your eyes to it? Or do you step in and do what you can to stop it? Wasn’t there anyone in Michael Vick’s world who actually said, “Hey Mike, maybe this isn’t the best idea…” Obviously we’re talking about wildly varying degrees of evil here, but my desire to stop wrong, promote right and eradicate bullies remains. Doesn’t anyone believe in karma anymore? Be grateful for your strong, capable body while you have it and park where you belong. When I re-told this story to a few other moms, I was met with blank stares. Am I fighting this fight alone?