One evening earlier this week I watched as an elderly man with a walker struggled to make his way up our driveway and into the lobby of the condo building where I lived.
I had noticed this man drive through our property a few minutes earlier in search of a parking spot and then leave to seek parking in the street.
We have five visitor parking spaces in the front of our building, one of which is clearly designated as a handicapped parking space, and they were all in use.
Our building manager told me that the car parked in the handicapped stall had been there for some time so, curious; I walked over to the car to see if it had a handicapped permit on display.
As is most often the case with people who choose to use this spot, there was no visible permit.
A few minutes later a young lady walked out of our building and opened the trunk of the car in question.
I walked up to her, pointed out the elderly gentleman walking across our driveway, and asked her why she chosen to park there.
Her reply, “all the other spots were taken.”
When I pointed out the clearly marked signs she shrugged her shoulders and informed me that, “$#!% happens.”
This was not a rare occurrence. Our property manager has told me that on a typical day he will call the Calgary Parking Authority between three and five times to attend our property and ticket vehicles parked in that spot.
Unfortunately, as their officers are extremely busy going from call to call, they rarely reach our property before the errant vehicle has departed.
In a typical week we are able to have only two of these cars ticketed and in a good month we can successfully have two cars towed away.
Whenever we point out to people that they are parking in the stalls, almost always the response is “I was only gone for a minute.”
There are, of course, two glaring holes in that statement. The first is that the statement itself is rarely true and the second is that, well, so what? Nowhere does the signage say that the stall is designated for vehicles with handicap permits unless, “you’re only going to be a minute.”
One of the frequent users of this parking stall is a man in his 20’s whose girlfriend lives in our building.
His vehicle does display the required permit and he has explained to our building manager that he had acquired this permit for use when taking his elderly grandfather to doctors’ appointments and that he could use it anytime he chooses to and there is nothing we can do.
Sadly, he is correct and rather than viewing his behaviour as shameful he is boastful of how frequently he does this.
Each time I have encountered the driver of one of these vehicles I have asked them how they thought it could be okay to park in these stalls.
Seldom have their replies contained any sense of contrition.
The typical reply is to tell me to depart – although not usually with that that choice of word and on occasion I have been told things about my heritage that were previously unknown to me.
An article in one of our daily newspapers last week informed us that the incidence of people parking in handicapped stalls increases each year and that while the number of tickets written this year has exceeded 6,000, the article acknowledged that this number represents only the tiny portion of offenders who actually receive tickets.
My topic today is not about the fact that so many people selfishly, and with absolutely no consideration for others, exercise this behavior. I’m more curious as to why they believe it is okay to do so.
We have often talked about how we only ever do one thing: we do what is important to us in the moment but I fail to understand how we can make a conscious choice, as able-bodied people, to park in a spot that is specifically reserved for those not as fortunate as us and do so with callous indifference to the inconvenience, and possible risk of injury, we may be bringing to another human being.
If you are one of the people who do this, I ask you to please consider your behavior. For many disabled people life is already inordinately difficult and the minor inconvenience we may have to endure in seeking parking elsewhere pales into insignificance when compared to the added difficulties our inconsideration may bring into their lives.
There is never an occasion when this type of behavior is justified.
Perhaps I’m overreacting, but watching that elderly men struggle across our driveway when there really was no need for him to have to do that, made my blood boil.
If you think I’m making too much of a small thing, and this really is not a big deal, please take a few moments to reply to my blog and grant me permission to copy your response into a future blog so that we can engage in healthy debate.
Or, better yet, send me an email to say that you will never, ever do this again.
We are all better people each time we choose not to do this.
What you think?
Till we read again.
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