Disabilities aren't always obvious

Posted: Wednesday, January 02, 2002

To all "amateur handicap parking space police":

The next time you think you see somebody abusing a handicap tag hanging in her vehicle, please take a split second to think again. Please remember your manners if you still feel compelled to tell her that she should leave that space for someone with "real disabilities." You know her, right? No, I didn't think so. Otherwise you wouldn't question her right to that "special" parking space.

I ask you to consider that perhaps the woman before you is someone like my dear friend. Perhaps she's a woman who has fought and triumphed over brain cancer. Perhaps today is a good day. Perhaps she's rested, so she's not dragging her left foot quite so noticeably. Perhaps it is chilly, so her curled left hand is hidden in the pocket of the coat she's wearing. And while your blood boils because you think she is ignoring your attempt to inform her about who "really" needs that handicap space, I ask you to consider that perhaps she might be partially deaf, or maybe she doesn't see your scorn because her peripheral vision isn't as acute as it once was. Perhaps a cancer or some other hidden invader diminished both those abilities many of us take for granted every day.

And remember this. It is not and never will be your place to dictate who receives handicap parking tags. Those decisions are left to the people who are qualified to make them. So in the future perhaps you could be so kind as to keep your opinion in this matter to yourself. I'm sure someone like my friend would appreciate not having her day ruined by someone so misinformed as you.

Haley Gilpin


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