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19 August 2012 @ 12:46 am
Dear Busybody People: Yes I Am Disabled  
Stop glaring at me when I park in a handicapped spot. No I don't have a wheelchair and I'm not 90 years old. I'll never BE 90 years old. My parents weren't, either. They both died of heart disease at age 50 and 54. I am 53 and I've had heart disease for over a decade. You, too, can get a shiny new handicapped placard if you have open heart surgery and a heart attack before you even wake up from that. It's so much fun. I highly recommend it. You get a whole bunch of pills to take every day. Too bad none of them give you a buzz. But you've got pills to make you pee, pills to make you pee even more once a week so you don't drown in your own fluids, pills to lower your blood pressure, pills to help your heart work better since the blood pressure pills are hard on your heart, pills to lower your cholesterol that don't work at all on your triglycerides and don't raise your below-normal HDL (the good kind).

I mustn't forget doctors' appointments, oh what fun they are--you'll enjoy lots of those. Another really fun part of heart disease is having everyone judge you. Gosh isn't it fun to be sick and have everyone tell you that if you'd just done x, you'd have avoided it, especially when x and y and z were things you DID do but they didn't save you from your crap genetics?

But hey, I'm enjoying the handicapped parking so, so much. Especially when I can actually find a handicapped spot that isn't taken. That pretty much means I don't go to festivals or if I do, I must get there super early because those spots go really fast.

By all means, call the police. I'll show them my permit for the placard and you can keep wondering how I scored the cool parking spot and why I drive a Miata (it's one of the few pleasures in my life). I know you think disabled people aren't supposed to have nice cars. I guess my life isn't crappy enough for you yet. Whatever.

I know I'm just lucky to even be alive. And someday, you'll have a placard too.
 
 
 
Suzie RushSuzie Rush on August 19th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
While there is an element of being against the system-abusers who misuse disabled spaces, I firmly believe that anyone who wants to get all white knight about it (even to the degree where they believe their withering glares will shame abusers into behaving) should do their research first. There is far too much belief that disabled people should look handicapped, and, even worse, that some disabilities 'don't count' because you chose to be overweight or whatever.

I'm in a privileged position, because without having to actually be in your situation, I have seen the unjustified judge-stares from the other side. My stepmother's been registered disabled since I was very young, and while her photo was on her (visible) badge, people still judged, because she was young and looked healthy, and - thanks to a cocktail of steroids and other drugs - was badly overweight. Some people clearly thought she can't be disabled, so had scammed the badge; some just thought she was, but that she didn't deserve the help because it must be because of the weight issue which just had to be her fault. Both were wrong, but no one ever bothered to think before judging. And none of them had to see her struggle to stay standing if she had to walk from a normal parking space.

In the past year, I've been given a college-only badge to allow use of the college's disabled bays, due to a knee injury which is exacerbated by walking too much, along with my class schedule which ensures that I can't get a regular parking space. I also get a pass for the lift, which is more of a pain because it's horrible and slow, but they don't want the risk of me getting halfway up the stairs and crippling myself (and suing them), so I abide. But with the parking, even though I have a notice in my car window, and a visible problem (one knee bigger than the other and a discernible limp), and there are way more disabled bays in the college than are ever filled, I get filthy looks because I'm young and able to walk - albeit lurchingly and with great pain - and thus shouldn't be getting such a cushy parking spot while they park streets away. It's horrible, and the sooner I can get it sorted, the better. I couldn't imagine having to put up with that for the rest of my life.

I can understand glancing in the window to check for the badge, and judging those who don't have one. My stepmother had to do that on occasion because if all the disabled bays are full, then she physically couldn't get to the shops, and when half of them were clearly abusing the 'honour system', she'd feel no guilt calling it in. But looking at a person and, without knowing their history or their pain levels, judging their worthiness of assistance that is not all that easy to get in the first place...that's not defending 'worthy' people, that's just plain being a douche.
Tapatitapati on August 19th, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC)

Well said!