Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Handy

If it can be said that there are any "advantages" to having a disability, handicapped parking is one. I've come to rely on those "handy spaces" whenever they get me closer to a building entrance. My walking is still extremely slow and very tiring.

I used to intentionally leave the most convenient spaces open for those who might need it more than me, until I gradually realized that I rarely see anybody who apparently fits that description.

I say "apparently" because one thing we have noticed is that you often can't tell by looking who has a physical disability. A person with chronic fatigue, for instance, could go bounding into a post office but end up dragging themselves out ten minutes later. An average walker might be seen entering a shop but might have difficulty carrying their purchase when they leave.

Or ... they might be a selfish, able-bodied jerk using someone's handicap placard to park for free. Here in California the DMV admits that their recordkeeping is a couple of years behind and as a result they have sent out 56,000 hang tags to dead people. Many of their family members have kept them. By DMV estimates, on any given street, on any given day, more than one third of handicapped parking spaces are being used improperly. One-third! They apparently deduced this from recent sting operations they conducted around the state.



I started thinking about this yesterday because, as I was unloading my trike at a local park, a parks district police officer asked to see my permit. Wow! This is the first time this has ever happened to me. It made me wonder if this was a random check or if the local municipalities have discovered a new revenue stream. At about 250 bucks a pop, fines for placard violations can keep a lot of libraries operating, schools staffed, and police officers and firefighters in their jobs.

It's a delicate operation because law enforcement is not permitted to ask you anything about your physical/medical condition. Still, it's important to stop the opportunists because, as our population ages and more and more disabled people remain active, those "handy spaces" are going to become scarcer and scarcer.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here in SC, the picture of the handicapped person in on the hangtag. I'm presuming that if yu are questioned, you better either be that person or have that person with you. By the way, I like the additional sign regarding stupidity.
Zoe

Steve, Christa, Emily, Meghan, Charles & Elizabeth said...

Where we live the town has raised the fine for parking to $300, the state fine is $100 as far as I remember. When my father had his placard I would drop him off at the curb and park in a regular spot. It bothers me that people do this, I think 1/3 is a little low.

ASL Girl said...

This is an excellent post!!!! It's very true, not all disabilities are visible right away. Same goes with neurological disabilties as well. When people see me at first and then get to know me, they often remark "You don't look like you have Asperger's Syndrome!" True, it may not be visible to an everyday person, but it's there. Kudos to you, Robb, for keeping on keeping on! You're a real inspiration!

cath said...

My husband's youngest sister has spina bifida. When she was a child, the family van had the placard to park in a handicapped spot. When out and about, with his sister, my husband would park in the HP spot. Sometimes he would have his sister wait near the curb (some of those spots aren't necessarily where you want to go) and drive over to pick her up. He would often get yelled at by people seeing him walk to the van. Other times, when not with his sister, but using the family van, he would park in a non-HP spot. He has gotten yelled at for not using "his" spots, and taking up a regular spot with the van. You can't win I guess--but it is true, there are a lot of scammers out there.

Stacy said...

Yes--it's so good that "handy spaces" have been made available to those with invisible difficulties. The downside is the selfish, able-bodied jerks. I'm right on the cusp of needing a permit because of CFS--saving 25 steps in a parking lot would be a huge help sometimes and might make the difference between being able to drive home safely and being so out of it that I have to stop and rest on the way. But I won't look into the permit because I'm still on the cusp and don't want to be an able-bodied jerk... This is one of those areas where I don't mind law enforcement stepping (politely, respectfully) in.

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