But the comments? Well, let's just say the level of ignorance never ceases to amaze me. Ill-informed yet ready to sprout their 'wisdom' for all to see:
"People who have a gammy leg and go to their doctor and get a letter that the RTA then issues a Disabled parking permit on the basis of that letter. Because I ask all ypou (sic) punchers this. How many people do you see with a disabled pass get out of a car and use and aid for mobility. Ie wheelechair etc etc. The how many actually look like they have a limp or such when they walk. I would reckon the answer would be close to one in every 15 vehicles."
I've spoken before about my chronic pain disorder and the fact that I have an ACROD permit (point #6) that lets me park in disabled bays.
I very rarely use it. And not because I'm not in pain.
I don't look disabled. My illness is invisible and because of this, "well meaning people" have blocked my car in, accused me of theft (of the permit), called security, abused me and threatened me. All for using a parking bay I am legally entitled to use, just because I don't fit in to their idea of what disability is.
My favourite, the one that is seared in my mind, was the woman who did almost all of them at once. She positioned her car behind mine, ranted on that I'd stolen the pass from my grandmother, called over security and said, in front of her two small children, "My husband works with retards, I know what it looks like to be disabled and you're not." Charming.
So let's clear up a few things here;
- Not all disabilities that qualify a person for a permit are visible; some muscle disorders, lung problems, and heart disease can all qualify and none of those are normally associated with a "limp or such"
- An intellectual disability doesn't qualify
- Permits can be issued if you need extra room to get out of a vehicle; if you can walk relatively fine but struggle to get in and out of a car in a tight bay then you may qualify
- It is not easy to get a permit; a letter from your doctor does not cut it. There is a form and a medical history which your doctor must sign before it is then reviewed by a panel
- They're not free; they're not expensive but you do have to pay for your permit
I have good days and bad days. A few years ago there would be one good day for every month of bad. Now it's a little bit more even, and thanks to mindfulness training and therapy I'm able to cope better with the pain (I was unable to stay on pain meds any longer - if I could've stayed on those suckers I would have!).
It still stops me from doing every day things, but I try not to let it stop me having fun. So I will go out, in high heels, and dance for hours, knowing that I will be in bed for days and have to use my permit for a week after... just so that I can feel normal for that one night.
I stopped using my permit unless I was in extreme agony, years ago. The stares, the comments, the abuse, it all got too much for me and I found that I would fake a limp just to escape the prejudice.
So when others, no matter how delightful they are, complain about non-parents parking in parent bays, I, in all honesty, can not join them in their fury. You can just park in a different bay, some days, without an ACROD bay, I have to go home.
|Image by Jörn Guy Süß|
Yes it's a pain to lug our kids a bit further in a car park, but that's what prams and trolleys are for, and hey, at least you have a car, some people don't and have to do all that lugging on public transport. We don't deserve special treatment just because we've popped out a kid. And I'm expecting a few 'unfollows' for saying that.
So before you go shaking your head and tutting at the person who doesn't look disabled, check their dashboard or rear view mirror. If they've got a permit, reserve your judgement. If they don't, then feel free to tell them they're a schmuck.
EDIT: This post upset some people. This was written as is, before the post that it previously linked to was published and was therefore not an attack on said person. It was not accusing said person of parking in disabled bays, nor accusing them of abusing people who do or don't or whatever, as was suggested. It is not a rant at her, it is a rant, there is a difference. The point of this article that I wanted people to take away was that sometimes we have it so good and we can't see it - we complain about trivial things when really, we are so privileged. Sometimes, people will park in parents bays because the ACROD bays are full, and maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge that "those people" who are parking there without children are not in need of a closer bay. I simply cannot not get angry at the misuse of a courtesy bay when I would gladly take that inconvenience over the abuse.