Friends and even family can occasionally act funny when it comes to the unwell. They seem to feel entitled by proxy to the term of disabled. Some of them can even get bombastic when they come to the defense of anyone in a wheelchair. These people can periodically become overly pro accessibility to the point that it becomes excessive.
A friend and her husband were taking me to a fast-casual eatery for lunch. There was a light rain coming down that seemed to cause people to drive erratically. As we pulled into the parking lot, there was construction equipment all around. The trucks and dumpsters blocked many of the parking spots. There was one accessible parking space where someone was illegally parked. This lack of convenient parking caused us to get rained on as we rushed to get inside. We moved as fast as a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but we made it.
I am the kind of guy who knows that to find this illegally parked person is unlikely. Not to mention all of the stress that it would cause if we found them. I said it before and I will say it again: stresses and MS are like oil and water. This bad mix can create physical consequences that can put a stoppage to my progress for the day. I do not want to visit these significant problems, so I avoid the catastrophe causing concerns at all cost.
My friend went to the cashier, and with a vehement passion, she began to protest loudly. I tried to calm her down, but like angry pit-bull holding food, she would not let it go. I explained that the cashier is not the one to blame for our damp dilemma. I reminded my friend that her ferocious temper is scaring the young female cashier. She soon calmed down, and we eventually had a nice lunch. I imagine that my friends vociferating may have scared the offender who caused our wet woes to the point of never parking like that again. On the other hand, it may have accomplished absolutely nothing at all.
I accidentally left my accessible parking placard in the car of a friend of mine. He called to let me know that he had it so that I would not panic when I could not find it. “I can bring it back to you whenever you need. When do you need it next?” he questioned. “Bring it ASAP please because I will need it tomorrow morning” I explained. When he brought it to me, he explained: “I had to use it to run into the grocery store real quick to grab one thing.”
I proceeded to let him know that there is paperwork that goes along with the placard to prove it is yours. I also made him aware that either of us could get ticketed for him using it illegally. This citation could be handed out even if he had the paperwork. I would get the ticket if I let him use it unlawfully or he could be ticketed if he used it fraudulently and without my knowledge. Then I reminded him that these tickets for illegally using these placards are no joke costing on average $250 to $500.
The question is will he do this again? I don’t know, but he will not be using my placard.
The COTA bus arrived one day with two drivers one of them being a trainee. I had seen the trainer before, and he made a funny, smart comment. He said something about getting myself on the lift in a jovial way and I laughed. The trainee was shocked and said, “Are you not going to push him?” “Why,” the trainer asked. “Because he is in a wheelchair.” She said morosely. He explained that just because a person is in a wheelchair that does not mean that they are helpless or unintelligent. “Many of them live independently without issue” he proclaimed.
I say all of that to say this: I want to be seen as just another guy out in public. I do not want people to see me as less than or different. I refuse to ask for special treatment, and I do not want people to feel sorry for me. Many people hold doors open for me, and I appreciate that. Depending on the timing I try to hold doors open for other people. I do not cut in line or complain when there is no handicap parking.
I am in a wheelchair. It’s not who I am. It’s just how I get around.