Do you recognize disability when you see it?
Last weekís post about an able-bodied woman using a handicapped parking space, then suing over the ticket she received, resulted in spirited conversation in the comments section.
Itís an emotional topic for a lot of people, not the least of whom are those who have the legal right to use the specially marked spaces, but who have an invisible disability. Judgments are often made based on nothing more than appearance.
When a person with an invisible disability pulls into a handicapped parking space, even with the appropriate legal tags, they are apt to get stares, glares, and outright anger.
We can try to educate others to understand invisible illness, should the inspiration strike, but we should never apologize for needing or using a handicapped parking placard. We owe no explanations. It stings, but not everyone will get it or care. Such is life.
If youíve ever observed a seemingly healthy person pull into a handicapped parking space and felt anger toward them, you might want to consider there might be more to the story… and thank your lucky stars for your good fortune.
It could be a heart condition, a neurological condition, or any of a long list of chronic illnesses that affect mobility. Appearances can be mighty deceiving. Not all disabilities require a wheelchair.
Rather than give up and lock themselves away, these folks choose to go out into the world. Bravo! The little extra help from a more convenient parking space makes that less daunting.
While you observe them walk from the parking space, you are not privy to the advance planning that allowed them to get this far on this day. You donít see added burden when they find that a business has stairs, but no elevator; or a door too heavy to pull; or the long line at the register that will severely test their strength and stamina.
If you donít need special parking, please donít resent or judge those who do. It is called a privilege, but no one really wishes for health problems in order to get this privilege. No, people who need it would rather not. Trust me on that.
Daily life is can be a hassle, and wouldnít it be great if we could all just pull up in the first spot in the lot and get to our business?
That we have the ability to walk and take care of our own errands… that we can climb the stairs and pull the door open and even hold it for the next person… that we do not need the handicapped parking spot… that is the true privilege.
I have relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis, and with that comes constant change. Sometimes I canít walk more than a few feet at a time, sometimes not at all; much of the time I can walk, and it is a glorious privilege, one I shall not squander or take for granted.
If you can walk without too much difficulty, if you do not require a handicapped parking placard, you are fortunate indeed.
Savor the privilege of walking.
Image credit: PhotoXpress.com