BY NORBERT RUG
On a Facebook group I am in, “Buffalo & WNY seniors group 55 and older” there was a debate going on about Handicapped parking places.The story started with a post by someone that said “I went shopping yesterday at a local produce market. I witnessed a SUV parked on the diagonal lines between the handicapped spaces. There was a sign stating No Parking Anytime. No sticker in the window either. I asked in the store if I could speak to a manager. The cashier asked if she could help so I indicated that maybe they should phone the police. The poor girl gave me a sheepish grin & confessed that the vehicle belonged to her manager… I was so stunned I just left.”
The post garnered 215 comments in the first 24 hours. One of the first comments was by someone named Rocky who said, “Nevermind, it’s not your business !!” and somebody else said,z “I think you’re a busy body who is just itching for trouble. I agree with Rocky mind your business. Most who have legal handicap stickers do not really need them. This is one of the most abused privileges ever.” (Misspelling is the way they were posted)
I take offense to this. In the interest of transparency, I have a handicapped parking tag due to multiple health problems. Two of which are COPD and Peripheral Neuropathy. I am mostly limited to the first floor of my house and rarely get to go out, usually only going out to doctor’s appointments. If it is too hot or too humid, I normally don’t leave the safety of my home that has the air conditioner running because I can’t breathe. If it is snowy or icy I stay home for fear I am going to fall down breaking something. I have fallen or slipped on several occasions, one time breaking my leg.
Someone stated “(This) Frustrates me, too, when someone sits in the car in a handicap spot!! Very inconsiderate of those of us who truly need the handicap spot and one isn’t available.” A person who responded wrote “I’m sure it was only for a very brief time. Maybe (they were) making a bank run or whatever.”
This is frustrating for me also. One of the times I collapsed, I was going to a medical appointment in a building on a main street. All the street parking, handicapped spots in front of the building were taken so I went to the side parking lot.
All the handicapped spots were taken there also, some of them by handicapped mini busses. They were there because the company that owns them was also in the same building. That is where the busses are parked when they were not in use. Because of this, I had to park at one of the farthest spots in the lot.
After I had parked, I had to take a long walk across the sun-baked, blacktop parking lot causing me to overheat. I had walked within 10 feet of my destination when my body gave out and I collapsed. This necessitated a call for a very expensive ambulance trip to the hospital. If I was able to get a handicapped spot, I would have made it to my destination without a problem.
For some of us it is the whole difference between being able to shop and not being able to shop. I head out on a “good” day at a time the stores are less likely to be busy, only to find someone parking in the diagonal line area. This prevents me from getting in and out of my car because I need to be able to open the car door wide.
And yes, sometimes it is necessary for me to be out even on a bad day. People only see the cane I use. I see people thinking as I walk by, that I don’t look like I need a handicapped parking permit. But handicapped people are not all in wheelchairs.
According to the ADA, private businesses and public agencies must make available a stipulated number of handicapped parking spaces. They must be a minimum size and have the proper signs. The specified spaces can be used only by people with a handicap windshield placard or license plate that was issued by the state. Handicapped spaces must be located at a location that affords the shortest and most trouble-free route to an entrance of the building that is handicap-accessible.
I had discussions with my doctor about getting a handicapped hangtag for over a year. He felt I should have one but I saw it as giving in so I told him I didn’t want one. I knew in my heart I needed one but my mind was just not ready to accept that. Finally, I broke down and had him fill out the paperwork. I then took it to the city clerk who issued a permit.
By the way, if a doctor signs those forms without a viable medical diagnosis to back it up or just to collect payments from Medicare or Medicaid, it is called fraud. A doctor who commits fraud can lose his or her license.