Read this before you challenge someone on a handicap course
On my way home last night I was behind someone who had this window film.
“I don’t look handicapped?
You don’t look ignorant
but let’s go…”
In fact, from the rearview mirror in the car, you could see the handicapped parking permit hanging.
This is clearly someone who has a legitimate, qualifying disability that allows them to legally use disabled parking spaces. But because they don’t involve anything obvious like a wheelchair or canes, strangers have made life difficult for them.
I’ve heard this happen too many times. The best example I can give is the story of a young woman who babysat for me after school. I was a single father at the time with a 4 and 6 year old. She watched them until I got home from work and was one of the nicest people you could meet.
But she had a tragic backstory.
A few years earlier, she was pregnant with her first child. Through no fault of their own, another vehicle collided with theirs in a horrific accident on a freeway. Her car was totaled and left the road, wrapped around a tree, left unrecognizable. She had to be freed.
Over the next few hours and days, she died clinically several times and was brought back to life. She had multiple scars and so many surgeries it was hard to count. And of course the poor baby didn’t survive. Many days she wished she hadn’t either.
When she could drive again, she didn’t look handicapped. From afar there were no braces, no canes, no gadgets, no wheelchair. If you weren’t close enough to see her scars, you’d think that this young woman in her 20s is fine.
But she had the handicap sign because there were days when, with all the trauma and surgery and so much hardware melting her skeleton together, her body would almost give out if she traveled a long distance. Other days she felt stronger. On the days when she felt stronger, she never used the handicap parking spaces. Only on the days she needed it.
Many of those days she was challenged. Nasty comments from total strangers.
“You shouldn’t use your relative’s IDs!”
“Young healthy girl taking a place from a disabled person, really damn nice!”
“You should be ashamed of yourself!”
Most days she ignored it. Some days she tried to explain it briefly. One day she completely lost her composure. Some old arrogant guy approached her, as did the others, and she softly and politely told him her references were hers and very real.
“Well, you clearly don’t need them.”
She skewered him in a visceral monologue, about the accident, the jaws of life, the dead baby she was still mourning, how he was to try and die clinically six times in two days fighting for his life and countless Surgeries and scars and fused bones and a year of painful physical rehabilitation to try… and then you come to her and tell her if she needs it.
The obnoxious coward of a man practically ran away after being tutored gloriously by someone a third his age.
So if you see someone who you think doesn’t have a disability but has the right credentials, keep that in mind. And mind your damn business.
The opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On demand! Listen to New Jersey’s most popular afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download or listen to Deminski & Doyle’s show anywhere podcasts are available on our free app.
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