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Offenders of handicap parking take note

Don’t be surprised if one of these days you hear a news report of a middle-aged woman getting into a brawl with someone in a mall parking lot. Spoiler alert: the middle-aged woman (I refuse to call myself old) could likely be me. And the dispute will be concerning able-bodied individuals using the spots reserved for handicap parking.

There is no singular description of the many offenders. They are of every age, every profession, and gender is not a determinant. Their only common trait is that they are healthy people capable of walking extra distances to their destination. In fact, many of them could use some extra exercise.

What they also have in common is a total disregard for the needs of others who are less mobile or unable to move without assistance.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried to make a point already. I do so by raising my eyebrows, staring down offenders, or cocking my head in a sideways fashion with palms upturned to say, “Really? What are you trying to pull here?” But so far, the guilty parties have avoided eye contact and either scurry into the mall or get in their vehicle and quickly drive away without looking back.

But I know it’s only a matter of time before some self-entitled person with no shame or remorse is going to push back. And the result is not going to be pretty. I have witnessed this abuse for far too long and I am ready to lock horns.

Maybe it’s because I know so many older folks who are trying their best to still live independent lives but have difficulty getting around. Or it could be that family who needs to get their child into a wheelchair so that the entire family can enjoy an outing together. Whatever the need, those spots are reserved for those folks who just require a little extra consideration and assistance.

But, for whatever reason, that very visible sign designating handicap parking seems to be ignored by many people. Instead of being glad that they can get around without difficulty, they have no qualms about pulling into the spot so close to the front doors. (And it doesn’t matter if you are only going to be gone for a couple of minutes, or you are just picking something up.)

When able-bodied individuals use that convenient spot, someone with a walker is forced to walk further. Or someone with a wheelchair might not even be able to unload in a regular spot.

A few weeks ago a group of young people pulled into a handicap stall. I watched with interest as four perfectly fit fellows emerged from the car. But before doing so the driver leaned over and pulled out a handicap parking sign and hung it on the mirror. As all four loped away with no difficulty whatsoever, I wanted to shout, “Just because grandma has a handicapped designation doesn’t mean you can or should use it for yourself!”

Maybe I should have said something. Maybe if more of us showed our displeasure at people abusing these designated parking spots, we can stop the practice. Public scrutiny and public shaming can sometimes be a powerful influencer.

I hope so, because I don’t know if I can tolerate much more of this inconsiderate ignorance, and I really don’t want to get into a rumble in the parking lot.

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