I am not under the assumption that just because I have a disability I should get special treatment, so when I enter a parking lot I scan the available spaces and then decide whether I feel I need the handicap space. If there is another spot, not miles away, I park in it figuring that someone else might need the space more than me. My feeling is that I don’t think I deserve to have my life made easier than someone without a disability, but that any accommodations I use allow me to have the same level of convenience as anyone else. My crutches improve the quality of my life tremendously, but no matter how you slice it having two healthy legs makes life easier. This is why I am angered when having to constantly fight a battle when I need to use handicap parking.
When I began classes at the local community college, the first day I studied the lay of the land, the parking lot and the main door to the building where my classes would be held. I quickly ascertained that I would need to utilize the closest handicap spot. Even by using that spot the walk to the door was a good distance uphill, plus I would need to do a considerable amount of walking once in the building. No sooner than I had parked, the parking security Gestapo pulled up beside my car to bust me for using a handicap spot. After presenting him my tag he informed me that it was handicap parking for faculty only. He told me I could park that day, after seeing me pull the crutches out of my car, but from then on I would need to park in the student lot’s handicap parking spots. Later that day, I looked up the law for handicap parking. It states handicap parking should be the closest possible spaces to the main entrance of a building, and said nothing about faculty and non-faculty handicap parking. The next day I pull into a handicap spot in a bank of about ten handicap marked spaces, nothing around them stating faculty only. I park in that bank of spaces for several days until one day I come out of the building to see the Gestapo’s vehicle parked directly behind me. Once again he was there waiting to inform me I was in the faculty lot. He then points to the student lot and tells me that handicap spot is closer to a door. Yes, he was correct, but the door was in two buildings over from the building my classes were in. I gave up and used the spot he directed me to. The last thing I was going to do is argue with this jerk who for some reason wanted to make things difficult for me. After all, I wasn’t looking to make my life easier, I just wanted it equally as convenient as anyone else.
Every day for two and half months this guy watched me park and walk into the building on crutches. Then he watched me return to my car on crutches after classes. He knew who I was, he knew my vehicle and knew I had a handicap parking permit. Most importantly he knew I needed the parking spot. After watching me all this time, the day I forgot to remove the tag from my console and hang it on the rearview mirror, the bastard calls the city police and I get ticketed for illegally parking in a handicap spot without a tag. I know he was the one who reported me because I was walking to my car just as the police placed the ticket on my windshield while Mr. Parking Security guy stood talking with him. The city dismissed the ticket, but that’s not the point. Instead of helping me out, parking security guy made my life more difficult.
Now I’ve started a new job, the parking situation is less than ideal. Employees have to park off site and take city buses to the building. Not pleasant for anyone, but for someone using crutches it’s very difficult. Every morning and afternoon, climbing on and off a bus while hundreds of people push through is not only difficult but dangerous. So, I inquire about handicap parking. I explain that I am not opposed to doing some walking, however I felt climbing on and off the bus would be too difficult. Once again, I am not trying to have my life easier – just equal to everyone else. For me having to do some walking equals the inconvenience of others taking the bus. I get no arguments; they completely understand but I have to jump through hoops to get to park in handicap parking. If I could jump hoops I wouldn’t need the handicap parking. Kidding of course – I didn’t have to physically jump through hoops, but I did have to track down doctors to get all kinds of paperwork filled out and get documentation to prove I need the parking permit. If you ever had to get paperwork like this filled out by a busy surgeon, while working full time, you know what a lengthy process it can be.
After paying ten dollars a day to park in a visitor’s parking lot at a walkable distance, they issue me a temporary pass. Wonderful, however it is only for a week – leaving me one week to get the paperwork back from my doctor who won’t be back in his office until the day my temporary pass is up.
I did eventually receive my permit allowing me to park in the garage under the building. It just never ceases to amaze me all the extra red tape that someone with physical limitations needs to go through just to have reasonable parking. Employees without physical limitations fill out one form and have parking immediately, but in the end it took a few weeks for me to secure a parking permit, and all the while the ten dollars a day quickly added up. Oh yeah, I have double the amount taken out of my pay check because I have preferred parking.
I would rather have two good legs to walk on than preferred parking.