Priority Parking


detail of textile, pigment on wool flannel
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A friend suggested a switch from HANDICAPPED PARKING to PRIORITY PARKING.

When he said that it made me laugh really hard.

First, because it sounds more exclusive (in the good way).

Almost red carpet-like.

Just the two words seem to erase any of the ‘WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?’

And magically turn it into: “What’s so darn RIGHT with you that you get to park here?”

But the more I thought about it the more I realized the ambiguity we’d be introducing into an already pretty charged arena called: “I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU THE EVIL EYE AS YOU GET OUT OF YOUR CAR TO SEE IF INDEED YOU ARE ACTUALLY DISABLED AND IF I CAN’T SEE ANY SIGN OF IT I WILL SEND DAGGERS OF SLIMY POISONOUS ENERGY YOUR WAY SO IF YOU AREN’T DISABLED NOW YOU WILL BE AFTER I GET THROUGH WITH YOU!”

You see, only by hanging one of those coveted glossy blue and white cards on your rear view mirror can you ever imagine how much energy is silently directed at those of us who ‘priority park’.

I have come to realize that the scrutiny I get thrown silently at me as I park and get out of the car is generated by well meaning people who have that inherent protective instinct that signals humanity.

But the thing is, the gene seems to have mutated into some weird sort of “James Bond-esque” gun slinging showdown conducted from 20-50 feet away from me.

And always in silence as no words are ever spoken.

They watch me with eagle-eyes to see if I actually have a visible disability and I hear the collective sigh of relief when I open the back door to get my walker out.

It feels like this whole “CARE IN RESERVE” thing like the fierceness of their remote protection of the handicapped parking place happens in lieu of the unwillingness to look disability in the face.

I love that you all are watching out that no one misuses my parking place and it is there for me when I need it.

I also love it when you open the door for me and look me in the eye.

A smile from you will probably make my day.

One time this week a woman with a watchful eye saw that my grocery bags were really heavy and walked over to ask if I needed help putting them in the car?

She walked clear across a row and a half of the parking lot to do that.

And you can believe me when I tell you I’ll NEVER forget that kindness.

It is good to watch out for one another.

And funny we’ve gotten so out of practice that we silently jive and jostle with one another as mute sentrys protecting the handicapped parking places for those who REALLY need them.

I am a PRIORITY PARKER… and I thank you for standing guard.

But I’m not terribly scary except when I need food.

So next time, please say: “HI” and I will love you for it.

comments

4 Responses to “Priority Parking”

  1. Peggy L Nelson, MS, OT on September 17th, 2010

    I love this post. My doctor suggested that handicapped parking permit and I was a bit reluctant as secretly I was one of those… who stood guard. I am an occupational therapist – it’s what I do. Suddenly I found myself in need. It was quite humbling and took me six weeks to submit my application.

    As I handed the application to the clerk behind the desk at the DMV, I became teary. She was unable to look me in the eye though I felt her deep compassion towards me. I am truly grateful for my parking permit though I would much rather be able to sprint across the parking lot and save the space for those more deserving. I suspect that may be the truth for other “priority parkers” as well.

    This MS is changing my heart….heart connections come from simple acts of kindness and don’t require grand gestures, I know this to be true. I feel blessed for the awareness of ALL of it.

    Thank you, Cathy, for this post. It warms my heart on this brisk fall morning.

  2. Muff on September 17th, 2010

    Cathy, this is so true. If people only realized how far that kind word/act takes us, perhaps they would more readily speak/do it. Thanks for showing us that there is still kindness in this world. And, yes, it was difficult for me to finally use that H/C placard.
    Peace,
    Muff

  3. Caitlin on September 18th, 2010

    Oh Cathy! I’m laughing! THinking of myself tripping as I walked up the RED CARPET to accept whichever award … loving the notion of PRIORITY PARKING! And then being sobered by your powerful words about love, looks and simple hellos.

    Your power in words here should PUSH me into writing as well … but I recede to art today at ABQ Health Care for Homeless … more on that later dear friend.

  4. Laura Hegfield on September 20th, 2010

    love this post cathy!

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