I should have known what was coming when my mom passed the space very slowly, as she always does, checking for a permit. (Apparently, someone made her the permit police.) There wasn’t one. Not hanging off the rear view mirror, not on the license plate. She learned to check the plate after barking at some woman who barked right back, “Check the license tag before you go getting all high and mighty with me!”
So, this SUV without a permit is parked in the handicapped spot at our hair salon. Mom leaves me on the sidewalk and walks right in the realty office in front.
Oh Lord. Here we go. Inside, I see her pointing to me. She’s having words with some guy at a desk. Oh brother. They’re coming outside, his keys in hand.
“There was nobody here,” he says, like that makes a difference.
“We’re here now,” Mom says.
“Sorry,” the man huffs. He isn’t. He can’t believe this woman marched right in to his office to make him move. The guy’s a jerk. I’m embarrassed, but a little proud too.
I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where an angry mob destroys Mr. Costanza’s car cause George and the gang park in a handicapped spot.
But these aren’t the offenders I’m worried about — the people without permits. Society backs me up on that one. It’s generally frowned upon and most people I know would never take a handicapped spot without permission. What I’m concerned about is the number of people with permits that park there and don’t need them.
We all know that doctors give these things out like prescription drugs. Anyone who ever twisted an ankle and got two years worth of front row parking can attest to that.
Last week, I was out walking Frankie by the handicapped access to the beach. A guy was parked in the handicapped spot waxing his surfboard that was hanging out of his truck. He cheerfully said good morning to me as I passed by in my wheelchair. He didn’t even look guilty. Now, unless he’s some kind of “Soul Surfer,” (and he didn’t appear to be, he had all his limbs) then I object.
The problem is that some people don’t see the problem. It’s not enough in my book to have the permit. You should need it too. Doing errands for the disabled person? Great! Is he or she going in? If not, leave the space for someone who needs it.
Some folks think they’re safe from a ticket if they have the permit. Wrong. According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, anyone who uses a permit that does not belong to them can receive a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.
In Seinfeld, Kramer talks George into taking the space. “Oh, come on. Handicapped people don’t drive! Have you ever seen a handicapped person pull into a space and park? Those spaces are always empty!”
Those spaces are usually empty. But we’re out there. Some of us drive and some don’t. But we all ride. And occasionally, may even want to go in.