Parking Pet Peeve

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExiting the gym after a challenging, yet invigorating workout, the sun hit my face as I drank in the 80 degree December day. Life was great! Until, I glanced up. My eyes were glaring at one of my all time pet peeves…a car parked in handicapped parking without a disabled tag.

This sighting was extremely unusual, almost Chupacabraish. Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of owners unlawfully abandon their vehicles for a “quick run-in”. But, in rare and brazen form, this owner was straddling between the door and driver’s seat. I knew I couldn’t pass the car without stopping.

In front of the handicapped parking, I paused on the sidewalk. Despite the sun’s glare, I clearly saw a young woman in her mid twenties popping her body in and out of her BMW lined with heavily tinted windows. She had a mission, but I was clueless as to whatever it was. Noise from surrounding traffic and the BMW’s continuously idling engine would prove difficult in attracting this young lady’s attention. Then, in the most genial  tone possible, I yelled,”Excuse me, do you realize you’re parked in handicapped parking?” Surprisingly,  the young lady heard me. She halted her activity, and popped her head above her car door. Sweetly smiling, she innocently replied,”Oh, I’m not parked in a handicapped parking place, I’m parked on the lines. Plus, I’m just here for a quick run-in.” My mind was about to explode!! Had this girl been under a rock for two decades? It’s at times like these that I realize how innately selfish humans can be and just how much most people take their mobility for granted. Irritated as a wet hornets nest, I knew  that God was testing me and that handling this confrontation with grace and compassion was essential. Instead of putting a dent in her posh car with my wheelchair, I waved her over, asking if she’d come speak with me. At first she looked confused. I told her that she would have to come to me since the curb and two concrete parking stoppers were creating a barrier for my wheelchair. She smiled, closed the car door, and almost skipped over. How could I harbor any ill will towards a skipper? Teacher mode set to autopilot. I felt like I was face to face with one of my fourth graders. In a firm, yet friendly voice, I explained that the lines next to a disabled parking space allow wheelchairs… (and she finished my sentence) room to get out of the car! Her face revealed that this was a brand new concept. I truly believe that she had never connected the cause with the effect. Hopefully, the importance of this life lesson was understood, especially after she promised NEVER EVER to park in handicapped spaces or lines again!

The world would be a softer more content place if all humans could discern this life lesson of empathy.