Growing up, one of the biggest dreams I had was getting my driver’s license, so I could drive myself wherever I need to go and wouldn’t have to rely solely on my parents to take me everywhere. Not taking anything away from my parents, but as you can imagine, having your dad drive you to college or work, picking you up, sitting you in your wheelchair and telling you goodbye can kind of be embarrassing. Fortunately I have THE greatest parents in the world who let me have the freedom to drive myself wherever I need to go, whether it’s to work, the store or to get something to eat if I’m hungry.
Before I go any further, there have been a few times I have had to get my dad to take me to work, because my van was in the shop getting work done to the lift or a tune up. I can never repay him for always being there for me, making sure I’m not late for work, making sure my van is running okay and that my lift is working. Thank you dad!!! 🙂
Ok, good that little detour is over with, now I can get back to the topic at hand. I’ve been driving for about 10 years and whenever I am out, I am always watching for parking violators or other things that prevent me from getting out of my van or going into a store.
I remember about 10 or 15 years ago my family and I were going to Tennessee and we stopped at a K-Mart by the interstate so we could stretch our legs. Which is amazing isn’t it? Mom, dad and my sisters get out to stretch THEIR legs, and here I am, can’t even stand up… but I’m not complaining one bit, because I know God put me on this Earth for a purpose and to bless people with my amazing story of courage and hope.
Anyway, when we got out of K-Mart, and got ready to get back in the van, I couldn’t because someone parked in the “Expectant Mother” parking spot, right where I needed to let my lift down. Dad was furious, got the license plate number and went back in and had the driver paged to come move their car. When they came out and saw me sitting there, they had this look of pity on their face, like “Oh, I’m sorry.” Dad told them that only expectant mothers could park there, and the woman said, “Oh that’s not a law,” got in her car and drove off. I can’t tell you how mad we were, especially my dad. It just breaks my heart knowing that people don’t even care about people who NEED these spots.
I remember another time I was getting out of class and got ready to get in my van, and basically the same thing happened. Someone parked in the loading zone, right next to my lift and I had to wait until they came back out. I saw them getting out and told them to move, and they just blew me off and said, “I’ll just be a minute.” When they came back out, I opened my lift RIGHT in front of them, so they could SEE how utterly STUPID they were to park there. If it’d been raining, I would have been soaked to the skin and had to drive an hour home in wet clothes.
And a couple weeks ago I went down to the farmers market and parked on the Square, in a handicapped spot… Marietta’s Public Works Department restriped the parking on the Square about a month or so ago and added a couple extra parking spaces for handicapped drivers, but they put the lines for the loading/unloading zone on the wrong side. I had to slide over so I had enough room to let my lift down and get out. Well when I got ready to leave, I got to my van and saw somebody parked two feet from me, which hardly left me enough room to roll between us and unlock my doors…
I called my dad and told him what happened, and he had to come down and move my van so I could get in… Let’s just say that when he got there, both he and I were NOT in a GOOD MOOD, and all because somebody wasn’t using good judgement… Now I have to be fair, the other vehicle had a handicapped permit in their dash, but come on, use a little COMMON SENSE people. If you saw a van parked the way I was, wouldn’t you eventually think, “Oh, that person must have a lift they need to get out. I better park a couple spaces over so they’ll have enough room.”
You know, I just wish people would get their heads out of their butts and actually put themselves in my position one day. How the heck would you feel if you were disabled, in a wheelchair and not even be able to get in your car because some dumb idiot who cares only about themselves parked in the spot you need? PLEASE just open your eyes and get your heads out of the dang clouds and realize we are people too, who want to be a welcome part of society.
Before I go, there’s another thing that really grinds on my nerves, and if you know someone with a disability, you can probably relate big time. I was at Wal-Mart the other day and I found a spot right in front (one of the advantages of getting there at 8 a.m. :)). As I was getting out, I looked across the aisle and saw something that almost made me blow up. Someone had apparently finished shopping, put their groceries in their car and left the shopping cart in the HANDICAPPED spot!!! Let me tell you, nothing ticks me off more than knowing people are so LAZY they can’t even walk the cart back in the store, or put them back in the little corrals that say “Return Carts Here.” It’s not going to hurt you to spend a few extra seconds to put the carts back where they belong.
As I close, I hope I haven’t offended anyone by this post. I just want people to understand how frustrating and sad it is knowing people don’t even care about disabled citizens. We are part of society just as much, if not more, than everybody else is. I just want you to know how much it breaks my heart knowing people abuse the handicapped parking spaces and cause those of us who need them to have to go out of our way to park.
Let me just give you a word of warning. I’ll be watching for parking violators everywhere I go, and you never know when I’ll have a pad and pen handy to write down your tag number, make and model of your vehicle. I will make sure this crap stops immediately and that handicapped citizens have equal right to a parking space wherever they go. I am SO dang sick and tired of being looked down upon and forced to change my plans because some people can’t get their heads out of their butts and realize WE ARE PEOPLE TOO.