Soapbox Saturday: Disabled Parking

Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov once said:

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious”

As you know I’m a big fan of comedy and humour. In fact both are essential to my life and that’s why I like to write posts that make people laugh. Occasionally, I like to get a little serious and today is a day for a little seriousness.

On 3 May, 2012, Harper Faulkner posted the following scenario under the heading Ethical?  on his blog All Write:

So, as I’m walking to the entrance of my building this morning, I notice a man I know a bit more than casually parking in a handicapped spot. His license plate has the required handicapped logo and, additionally, he has a handicapped sign hanging from his rearview mirror. He’s legal. I meet him on my journey into work and being the kind (not nosey) person I am, I enquire about his health. His health is fine. So, I remark on his handicapped status expecting to here of an unseen ailment that restricts his walking.  “Oh, that,” he responds. “That’s my wife’s car.”  He explains her disability and indeed, she does have problems. We ride up in the elevator and he remarks, “I always like driving her car, because I can park so much closer.” I exit and he travels one more floor.”

Harper received approximately 60 comments on his post and thankfully the overwhelming majority of respondents were of the view that this was unethical. I was one of them.

I wanted to expand my response, hence this post.

Australia has a national disabled parking scheme. Permits are provided to those with a Clinically Recognisable Disability which includes paraplegia, quadripligia, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular conditions and blindness. In addition to this scheme, each State operates a mobility parking scheme which requires medical certification and applies to a person:

    • Who is unable to walk due to the permanent or temporary loss of use of one or both legs or other permanent medical or physical condition; or
    • Whose physical condition is detrimentally affected as a result of walking 100 metres; or
    • Who requires the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, scooter, wheelchair or other similar mobility aid; or
    • Who is legally blind.

In both cases the permit is used to the person not the vehicle and is only valid for use whilst the person with the disability is using or a passenger in the vehicle. Whilst this is a proper and correct rule to have, in reality it is very hard to police. Furthermore, the issue of permits in my State is terribly lax and the scheme is systematically abused. These are the facts which generally lead to people with disabilities having to take matters into their own hands – with mixed success.

From a moral standpoint and taking the scenario posed in Harper’s post, I cannot understand how a person feels they have a right to park in a spot reserved for a person with a disability simply because they have a disability permit in the family. On what basis can this ever be correct? To treat disability as a convenience is in my view reprehensible. There is nothing about a disability that is convenient. One cannot take the perceived “benefits” of disability without experiencing the burden. Roll a mile on a set of wheels and experience all of the other complications, societal ignorance and double standards that come with that sort of life and then see if you have the energy and the expenses to go out and steal parking spots. Vicariously experiancing these things through a spouse is not the same.

This may be a small issue to some, a minor transgression if you will but to me it’s more symptomatic of a general disrespect to people with a disability and a lack of emotional accessibility, which I wrote about in my E post for the April Challenge. And this, from a man who should understand and respect disability a little more than most given his wife’s situation. This is why some people with a disability view able bodied members of the human race (of which I am one) as the enemy. Let’s keep on digging that great divide, shall we?

To you sir I say ride the bureaucratic windfall if you must, but one day the parking spot someone steals will be your wife’s. Karma has a way of finding you.

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

22 thoughts on “Soapbox Saturday: Disabled Parking

  1. I actually saw someone park in a handicap spot in a Hummer…please! I had to stay an see what sort of “disability” enables you to climb into this beast of a truck, yet prevents you from walking the 50 yards from the parking lot. Nothing, absolutely nothing is the answer. I’ll assume his “handicap” is being an ass! You got my blood boiling on this one.

  2. I have one of those tags because I do have a disability (my stroke left me weak on one side, and I have to walk with a cane). Mary does the driving now, but only parks in the handicapped spots when I’m with her, and even then, if she’s going to run into a store and I’m going to stay in the car, she parks in a non-handicapped spot. Nothing chaps my ass more than seeing able-bodied individuals using the handicapped spots because they have a handicapped placard for someone else who’s not with them. Their sense of entitlement drives me right up the wall.

  3. My mom uses a walker, and I only use the placard when she is in the car with me. It also bothers me when people take advantage of this, because many places only have a few handicapped spots. Glad you addressed this issue, as more people are being affected by it on a daily basis.

  4. That’s the way it SHOULD be: the person with the disability, being present and in the parking spot, rather than the car. I see this abused all the time. How childish we are to save a few steps.

  5. My husband has a disabled placard and a disabled plate on the other car. When I drive the car with the plate on it (which happens to be the car I use mostly) I park where I normally do. I love parking as far from my destination as possible as I know this is good exercise to walk. I had an injury as a child that prohibited me from walking for about six months. I hated not being able to walk or run. I made a vow at that young age that I would never take my legs for granted again. I was seven at that time. I still feel that way. I have had several people stare at me when I park the car and go walking across the parking lot. It takes a minute to realize that they are wondering why I have parked so far away when I have the license plate with the wheelchair on it. It is my husband’s disability and he is the one who needs this. I do not. I am angered when I see this abuse of the parking spaces. My daughter also had a placard while she was in college. She has an invisible disability (one that affects her constantly, but no one can see her pain or suffering). Even though she used it while on campus, she rarely used it otherwise. She said she still had the ability to walk (although she could not walk far) and that there were others who were worse off than she was. I love this post, Well said!

  6. Great post! You are so right. I think it’s deplorable when people take advantage of things like this. I missed Harper’s post but I do hope that Karma finds his coworker, I just hope the man’s wife doesn’t end up on the wrong end of it however.
    When my Mom was alive she had a hanging sign that she could use when traveling in someone else’s car. She always wanted me to park up front and walk in with her from there. I don’t recall ever doing so. I would always drop her off and then go park in a regular spot. It just never felt right for me to use a spot that someone else may truly need.
    Thanks for bringing this matter to peoples’ attention.

  7. Just came across your blog today…hopping around the Reflections posts. Thank you for writing this. As someone who has an actual disability (I’m a cyborg), I appreciate other “normal” people sticking up for us “others” 🙂 Just shared this on my facebook page too.
    Visual Proof

    • Thank you for sharing it CB Mum and glad to have our paths cross. An all inclusive world is also a dream for me and anyone who shares is someone I’m happy to know :). Will swing by your blogs and say hello.

I would really love to hear what you have to say. C'mon.. you know you want to!

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