I have Parkinson’s disease. I am frequently balance challenged if I have to walk or wobble more than a few short steps. I am also one of the people who ride those bothersome electric shopping carts and get in your way at the supermarket and department stores.
A year or so ago, I stopped by the courthouse in Lancaster, disability letter in hand, and asked what I needed to do to get a handicapped parking permit. Turns out, I had to do nothing but ask. The nice young lady at the county clerk’s office whipped it right out. She took my word for the fact that I’m handicapped and didn’t even need to see my letter. Anybody willing to lie can get one.
The problem is that, even though I have a fairly serious physical handicap, I am almost never able to find a handicapped parking spot because they are all taken by drivers who, instead of having a physical disability, are morally and ethically handicapped. I’m talking here about perfectly healthy people who will lie, cheat and steal to get a handicapped parking permit and a convenient parking spot and they don’t care who knows about their crooked ways.
Last Monday morning I sat in the Kohl’s parking lot in Richmond for nearly an hour while Loretta shopped. Kohl’s didn’t have electric buggies the last time I was in there, but at least I can listen to decent music or read if I sit in the car.
But the store does have about a dozen handicapped parking spaces directly in front of the entrance. Every single one of these was taken when we found a spot nearby. And I’m thinking, at first, that the store must be having one heck of a sale on wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, walking canes and stuff like that.
Then I started noticing the shoppers whose cars occupied these spots, mostly younger women, as they started waltzing out of the store, hopping behind the steering wheel and driving off. Within a couple of minutes the spots would be taken by drivers, some with healthy looking passengers, who ran into the store but who had absolutely no visible sign of a physical handicap.
Almost all of them had handicapped parking permits hanging off their mirrors but a couple or three didn’t even have an illegally used permit. They just figured the law wouldn’t come around and that they wouldn’t get a ticket if it did. I figure they were going inside to shoplift.
Given the size of many of their posteriors and waistlines, the occupants of these cars would have been far better served if they had parked at the back of the lot and jogged off a few calories before entering the store.
So I’m sitting there thinking that here’s a situation the self-serving corps of clowns that we call the Kentucky General Assembly could address. Pass a law that levies hefty fines, even jail time, for drivers who steal handicapped parking spots unless they actually have a handicapped passenger on board. Then I realized these same drivers could always claim it was against their religion to park anyplace other than a spot reserved for handicapped people so there went that idea.
One thing you can say about our General Assembly is that they will do anything they can in the name of religion, whether it’s constitutional or not. There’s more Bible thumping in our state capitol when the legislature is in session than you’d see at a convention of Southern Baptists.
Anyway, shortly after parking, I noticed an elderly couple slowly walking from somewhere way behind the handicapped spots. He was using a walking cane and she was making sure he didn’t fall flat on his rump. They’d take a few steps, pause to rest a bit, and then proceed while laughing and chatting up a storm.
They paused as they came through the handicapped parking section and the old fellow waved his cane at all the vehicles parked there. He was grinning and he seemed to be saying something like, “Look at that, Martha. We’ll be keeping good company when we get in the store!”
Good company indeed. Good company if you enjoy being around blatant, heartless crooks and scoundrels because that’s precisely the company you are keeping when you are around people who unabashedly steal parking spots lawfully reserved for folks who really need them.
I’m not saying here that every person using a handicapped parking spot needs to be in a wheelchair or on crutches. Walking distance can be a big burden to folks like me even though we don’t need props to get us from the lot to a wheelchair or buggy we can ride inside the store.
What I am saying is that if you lied to get a permit or if you are using your disabled granny’s even if she’s not in the car, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. In fact, you ought to be arrested.