I have got to get this off my chest. If I have ONE pet peeve, this is it and it almost makes me violent: I abhor people that use handicap placards as an excuse for their laziness. Now I know we aren't supposed to hate people, so let me rephrase that to say I detest their actions. And that's putting it mildly.
Because we are placard holders due to Anna's handicaps, I realize that I am extra sensitive in this area. But I see it ALL the time. Not long ago I engaged in a riveting discussion on Facebook with a gentleman who felt he must bring to my attention that by all appearances, he may not look like he needed the assistance of one of those little scooters available in most of the chain stores, but in fact he did. Listen, I'm fully aware that I'm not the final judge on who should and should not ride on said scooters, or who should or should not be given access to handicap parking placards. I can only tell you from experience how extremely frustrating it is to not be able to find a handicap parking space available for my daughter (who cannot walk unassisted for long distances without the help of a leg brace or a stroller/wheelchair) when there are people I have seen with NO APPARENT HANDICAP AT ALL HOGGING ALL THE SPACES!!!!!
Notice I said "no apparent handicap." Because of Anna, I am aware that everything is not as it appears, as the aforementioned Facebook person argued. I have spent time in the company of people I have met for the first time who did not realize at first that Anna is handicapped. I, myself, have wondered if others might be judging me as I lift my 48 pound 8 year old into a modified stroller and hang our card from the rear-view mirror. After what I've witnessed, especially recently, I will never again feel guilty about using those parking spaces again.
On a recent trip to K-Mart, I was thrilled that I found a handicapped parking space so close to the front. Score! I noticed as I was getting Anna's stroller put together that this car in the space in front of us was having trouble parking. "Poor thing," I thought. Yeah, poor thing indeed when I was SHOCKED to see a female in her twenties, smoking a cigarette, parking her car and putting up her handicapped placard WITH NO SHAME!! I always try to make eye contact with such individuals to see if they might be embarrassed in the least for their actions. This particular woman would not look at me.
On the way out I noticed a lady, who appeared to be in her 40's, with her two daughters and their buggy full of necessities for school. They proceeded to load their truck which also happened to be in a handicapped space. I noticed them because the mom was yelling and making a huge fuss at the girls just as I had seen her do inside the store. From what I saw inside the store, or outside for that matter, NONE OF THEM NEEDED A HANDICAP PARKING SPACE! Apparently their only handicap was their inability to act civilized in a public place.
So as I was breaking down Anna's stroller, I noticed a man and his wife exiting the store. I recognized them because I had seen them earlier inside when I caught the husband "looking" at Anna. I could write a whole post on this subject alone, but at the time, I thought I'd let him get an eye full and take as long as he needed to mentally digest what a handicapped child looks like. Anyway, the couple appeared to be in their 50's and again... I saw them walk all over K-Mart staring at my child, with no difficulty whatsoever. I don't see how having to walk two more yards to the non-handicapped space beside them would have been a problem. But I'll leave that to them and their primary health care physician.
Not long ago I saw a lady in the Wal-Mart parking lot who I am quite familiar with. She is the guardian of a child with cerebral palsy that I know well. This particular day I was alone so I was enjoying the last of a song I liked on the radio and finishing up my coffee before heading in to do some shopping. I saw this lady getting out of her car and I got excited because I thought I was going to get to say hello to the little girl I'm so fond of. After she pulled into the handicapped space and put her card up, she did get a child out, but it was the normally developing brother of the little girl with CP. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. She was one of "us," I thought, taking advantage of the card she carried, just to get closer to the front door. I was stunned.
After expressing such disdain to my relatives, my mother-in-law hit me with a doozie. She told me that a lady from her church who received a placard when she had broken her leg still uses her card to this day... long after her leg is healed... to get a better parking spot at CHURCH! Was I hearing correctly? What is wrong with people? On a different note, this may explain how all these people are getting these placards in the first place.
If you have a broken, leg, foot, etc., I believe you MORE than qualify for a placard. But what about an expiration date that doesn't last 2-3 years like the rest of us? Perhaps there should be more regulation where these placards are concerned... maybe even "temporary" ones in a different color with a closer expiration date. I cannot swallow the fact that there could be doctors giving out prescriptions for these cards on a whim. I certainly hope not.
One final note: I have NEVER used our card without Anna being present. Not even in the torrential rain, when no one was around who would notice. All I have to do is think about the person who can't just jump out of their car and run to the front entrance as I and so many others who posses handicap placards can. Here's hoping that those who use their placards without warrant will always be able to make that run. It's awful not to at least have the choice.