Stand up to handicap parking imposters
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
Picture this familiar situation: it is rush hour, you pull into a strip mall parking lot to access a restaurant for some quick takeout before you go home. All of the parking near the store you want is taken, except for one stall – the handicap stall. I think most of us would drive along and find another space. However, on Thursday May 29, a young man at the St. Albert Subway on McKenney Avenue took the less scrupulous route.
Now, I am a fair person and happy to extend the benefit of the doubt – maybe his hammy declaration that he didn't realize that it was a handicap stall is actually true, despite all indications to the contrary. To his credit, when I confronted him, the young man asked me to hold his spot in line and immediately went to make the situation right.
Before we wag our heads and curse the “young people” for their lack of respect, that was a far better resolution than a time about 10 years ago when, standing in the same Subway, I witnessed a hot-headed 40-something man who had parked his BMW in the same handicap space without the need to, and he argued, "Does that really concern you?" when another diner spoke out.
Ultimately that driver relented, albeit angrily, and re-parked his car, and it is fair to say that the memory of that confrontation emboldened me on this more recent occasion.
I have a personal stake in this. In St. Albert I have two family members with severe disabilities, one who has a handicap parking placard, and the other who will qualify for one when he gets a vehicle.
I am close to these individuals and I have witnessed the challenges they face, but I do not for a moment presume that I understand their struggles. They persevere against a society that is stacked against them in almost every way, and the demands on them can be physically and emotionally draining. I do not think any of us can truly understand it until we have walked in their shoes.
Handicap spaces are a small mercy for those with disabilities. They are not there as backup in case all of the other parking stalls are taken. It is not some great game to try to take those stalls and get out before anyone catches you. To me, taking a designated handicap stall that you are not entitled to is simply cold blooded, and it shows an abject lack of empathy. Those stalls are for people with genuine disabilities, always and only, period.
I hope the community agrees and is prepared to stand up to individuals who occupy those spaces without the need. Such people count on you being too afraid to confront them. Prove them wrong.
Ryan Mullan, St. Albert