Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Getting Schooled on Handicap Parking

A big thank you needs to go out to a little lady in the parking lot of  a Walmart Neighborhood Market in my hometown. I learned from her foul-mouthed rant about me parking in a handicap spot. (one of the 7 open spots near the door) First, she shouted across the parking lot saying "Hey! A**hole!!!" I turned to face her, and she stormed up to me wagging her finger in my face "YOU shouldn't be parking in this spot! This is for people with handicaps! "
I smiled and said, "Not all handicaps are visually obvious.Thank you for the concern, though." and I raised my pant leg a little bit to expose the bottom of my prosthetic device.
I was really shocked by her reaction. She seemed to get even madder at me, her face screwing up into a knot and I was momentarily afraid she would hit me. "NO NO NO!" she yelled "That doesn't count!! You have to have a cane or crutches or a, a, a wheelchair!! YOU walk perfectly fine, YOU don't need the parking spot!!" She was following me toward the door. "If you don't move your truck, I'm going to report you to the authorities!! They will yank that tag from you!!"  I was perplexed at why she was so angry about it. She didn't let up until I entered the store, and she stormed back to her car, got in and tore off.

I have this annoying tendency to want to prove I am right all the time. I know it irritates some people, but it was really bugging me. I mean a prosthetic device is an assistive means of allowing me to be mobile, and even though I really don't need to park in handicap places, I do. My reasoning is that if I step wrong, or the suction lets go and I slam back into my socket the wrong way, or maybe even slip a little and tweak my leg, it can be rather painful. I have been thankful not to have to walk back to my truck all the way on the back forty of some parking lot. I actually looked up the vehicle code for a handicap sticker in my home state to make sure I was right.
In Arkansas, drivers certified by licensed health personnel to have impaired mobility or a condition which substantially interferes with mobility may qualify for "Disabled" status. 
You are also considered a disabled driver if you:
* Are unable to walk 200 m without resting due to orthopedic, arthritic or neurological condition.
* Need to use another person, support, a prosthetic device or a wheelchair.
* Have a disabling cardiac condition as per the American Heart Association standards.
* Have a disabling lung disease or need to use portable oxygen.
Disabled persons can acquire a Disabled Person (DP) placard/ certificate or DP license plates. These entitle you to special parking privileges in areas designated for disabled persons, whenever you are the driver or a passenger of the vehicle. Misuse or abuse of these privileges is a Class A misdemeanor; offenders can have their vehicles impounded or fined up to $100-$1000 and/or have their license suspended for 6 months.
I think I understand where she was coming from - from a distance, I don't look like I need to park there, Some people would say even though I can, I shouldn't. From my perspective, most days I won't cruise the parking lot for a handicap space, however, when several are available, I have a tag, I might as well use one. Just because my assistive device is something that is tailor made to fit me perfectly and that it can be hidden from view by my pant leg, does not reduce the importance that it holds for me to remain mobile. There are several other conditions out there that do not show outward signs right away, or for that matter, ever. Chronic Neurological Conditions, like MS, CPS, and even PTSD can qualify if a doctor certifies them.

My main point in this post was to say, even though there are people out there that can be vulgar (I removed most of her language from this posting) Some people can be simply ignorant of the rules. I don't hold it against them, and often disengage if they don't want my explanation. I have even had threatening  notes put on my windshield, trying to shame me for parking there... In the end, I know I have the right to park there, and I will. Just don't hate the haters.


  1. From the perspective of a paraplegic w/ MS, you are absolutely correct. Whilst her language was foul and she did not know the rule, she was on our side. A study (reported in New Mobility) found 60% of those in handicapped spaces were using someone else's permit or did not qualify.
    For a paraplegic or quadriplegic, it's a handicapped space or nothing. We have to have the width to get in or out of the car. I appreciate what the lady was trying to do, but she needs to learn that amputees do indeed qualify and perhaps revise her approach.
    You make a great point; thank you for letting me add to it.

    1. I agree whole heartedly, however, her manner and demeanor was so aggressive. it may have been the fact that I am much bigger. The aggressiveness is off=putting and renders her message ineffective. It is better to simply learning the process of properly reporting rather than confrontation.
      Thanks for the comment, you make some great points!