Monday, January 4, 2010

In Which I Apparently Am A Horrible, Horrible Person

Connor went back to school today, which was really nice. He loves having a steady routine, and school had become a really important part of that, so I think he'll feel a lot more comfortable settling back into his usual habits now that the holidays are over.

After we dropped him off at school and had a meeting with his nurse, Jer and I drove to the YMCA, where we tried a pilates class. The instructor was very nice and it was fun, but I think we'll maybe try a class that's a little more high intensity; this one was geared towards beginners and the elderly. We had a very nice, relaxing gentle stretch but the class was too long for me to get in a good cardio workout too before I had to go pick Connor up at school. I think I'll try a circuit course next time; it's sure to get the blood moving!

I left Jer at the Y to do his aquatic training while I picked Connor up and stopped by the grocery store. I'm finally in the mood to do some cooking again, so I bought enough for the next three days worth of dinner menus (tonight we had strip steak with roasted carrots, balsamic glazed pearl onions and sourdough rolls) as well as restocked us on a few essentials.

I parked, of course, in the handicapped spot. This is because I had Connor with me. He rides everywhere now in his wheelchair, which is rated for vehicle use, and that way I just have to roll him down the ramp instead of trying to lug thirty pounds worth of wiggly kid into the store. I put our disabled parking permit up, of course. Connor qualifies for one too and we have the application, although we haven't actually driven down to the DMV and picked up the placard yet. I keep forgetting about it. The only difference between his and Jeremy's is that Jer's is red and Connor's will be blue, so I haven't worried too much about using Jer's for Connor too. At any rate, when I got out of the store I loaded Connor and the groceries into the van, went around the side to hop into the driver's seat, and someone started laying on the horn. I looked around, a little confused, and there was an elderly woman in a sedan scowling and furiously shaking her fist at me. There were empty handicapped parking spaces on either side of her and at first I wasn't sure why she was so angry. Then after watching her furious pantomime for a couple of seconds I realized why she was so upset. It was because I was parked in a handicapped parking space and I'm not disabled.

Evidently she either couldn't see Connor in the car or didn't care, as she pulled into the spot on the passenger side of the van and continued to shoot daggers from her eyes at my head as I climbed into the van. She was still shaking her fist at me as I pulled away.

I chose to ignore her at the time, but I'm still a little confused as to what exactly my reaction should have been. She was obviously extremely worked up over what she considered to be my horrible law-breaking breach of etiquette. What would you all have done in this situation?



Sweet Lorraine said...

I'm pretty sure I would've just handled it as you did. Shrug it off and drive away. She probably has seen able-bodied people parking in handicapped wrongfully a bit too often, and now has a sizable chip on her shoulder. You were in the right, she was quick to assume otherwise, no harm, no foul.

It is, to a different degree, like when I'm sitting at a "No right turn on red" light, and the person behind me starts honking and freaking out because I'm not.. turning on red. Makes me giggle as I point at the giant sign that says as much.

Cathy said...

You two are better people than I. I would have waited to help her out of her car and introduced her to my son. Than I would have apologized for not bringing my wounded husband along for the ride. But I am that way.

I am sure that she has been bounced out of parking places by able-bodied people before, and for that I AM sorry. No cause to be rude to a mom just trying to do her best to get through the day.

Bronx Cataldo's said...

Now I wouldn't have minded if there wasn't any other handicapped spots and that was the reason she was honking. I get that all the time. The best was one day I pulled into a blue tag spot and take Finnins's chair out and then take him out when a couple in their 50's stop and tell me they need to park there as she has a bad back I just said well my kid is in a wheelchair and locked the van and went on my merry way. Well the next thing a security guard is asking me for ID for the parking tag. Someone complained that I took a spot in the handicapped zone and that I shouldn't have. So once the security checked out that it was Finnians he told me no problem. The best was while in the store I saw the same lady and how do bad back she was lifting a rug now I don't mean a little mat a rug that was 5x7 in to the cart. I just said "Oh my the sale price on the rug cured your bad back" and just kept going.

Anonymous said...

Ignore it. So what, she doesn't know and face it you said she was an "old lady" they get kinda crabby anyway :-)

leah said...

I wouldn't have been able to stay my tongue. I would have waited for her to park, exit her car, and (sweetly) asked her what the problem was. Then let her have the egg on her face (but then again, I have a real problem with people who prejudge a situation).

You are a better (and wiser) person than I am- it was probably much better to simply drive away!

Anonymous said...

I have read many venimously angry posts by parents who see non-disabled drivers park in designated spots. Apparently many in the designated-eligible population believe that anger and blogging are the best methods for stopping these behaviors. Too bad. Driving away in good conscience is certainly an acceptable behavior.

But Cathy's response would have been just as good, not less.

Agree - Bronx Caltaldo, that was the best (rug price). lol.

(All old people (they) are not crabby, anonymous. Just some of us.)

I trust that you, Jess, will make the best decision for you the next time you are in that circumstance. What is Jer's opinion?


ferfischer said...

How frustrating! I probably would have said something to her about having a kid in a wheelchair (not to mention, an accessible van (hello! what could be more obvious?), and that's why you have the permit! I can't believe some of the stories in the comments where people insist they need it more than a parent with a child in a wheelchair! The things we have to deal with, I swear.

Niksmom said...

I get that a lot too when I 'm out with Nik. He can walk but his CP and his autism combine to make him unable to walk unassisted (plus he darts into traffic FAST!) so he meets the requirements. I just ignore the cranky people. If they approach me I will deal with them. Otherwise, I just shrug them off. I don't need to have THEIR negative energy slimed all over me & my kiddo!

Bronx Cataldo...oh to have been a fly on the wall when you said that to the lady with the bad back! LOL

Julia said...

I definitely feel for people who can't get a disabled spot because others have parked there illegally, and I know this is a real problem. An equally real problem is when people presume to judge for themselves whether someone else is disabled. My sister has MS. Sometimes, she's fine, and she won't use the tag. But sometimes, she's so weakened and unstable that she has to. But she doesn't look disabled -- unless you know what to look for. And of course people (able-bodied passersby, busy-bodies -- never anyone who's actually disabled themselves) sieze exactly that opportunity, when she's at her lowest both physically and emotionally, to judge and berate her. No wonder it's hard to come up with a snappy comeback under the circumstances.

Julia O'C said...

I'd like to say that I would have confronted her, but I think I would have done exactly as you did and just tried to let it go. But it would haunt me for days afterward, I'm sure. Maybe something really horrible happened to her that day, and she was taking it out on you.

I find that if I'm really bothered by someone like that and can't let it go, doing some "random act of kindness" thing for someone makes me feel better - like I've broken the cycle of evil or something.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Deploy the ramp!

But if she was on the wrong side she may not have noticed.

Sadly, there is a lot of abuse of the system (not by YOU!) so I can understand her frustration.

You are much more gracious than I.


Terena said...

that happens to me all the time! I load up my daughter and her chair, then walk around to the driver's side and invariably someone will glare or make a snide comment. "Yeah, you're disabled." I know people are frustrated by the ones who abuse the system, but for heavens sake, think before you condemn me for parking with my disabled child!

Elizabeth said...

It's happened to me as well. I usually just shrug it off but one time actually responded when a guy yelled at me that I didn't look too handicapped. I said, "No, but my ten year old daughter is" and then watched his face contort with not a little pleasure...

Connor's Mom said...

Wow, everybody! It seems pretty equally divided between the ignorers and the shower-her-she's-wrongers.

That was quite possibly the best come-back ever, Bronx. Especially after they had the nerve to contact a security guard even after you'd told them about Finnian.

I sort of like Julie O'C's idea. Maybe I'll just go do something nice for someone else to balance everything out!


ellen charge said...

this is where i think otherrs should shut there mouths if your i admite i HATE SEEING NON DISABLED PEOPLE IN THE SPOTS BUT sorry think uve gotten me on a soapobx here argh naughty you lol smack playfuly no but i now have to careful coz soemtiems i go oh that person shouldtn be there and yes they have a sticker but as soemone once said how do you know that there istn a hidden disability like say cf where u catn walk more than a hundred metres coz they will end up coughing or a degree of charge syndroem that means not in a chair or also sometiems there mite b people like you with conor where well i belive ur windows are tintted rite well that could of made it hard to see to well it still annoys me specialy when fit looking people do it with no apparent people with them or eve with out a sticker we say out here there using there grandmothers but then i shouldnt complain bout others with out thumping my mums brother on the head LOL coz he we were all down at coogee having famtime after grandpa died in november and well he parks in the disabled spot mum was oh blody john dad went oh well isnt it hers but it was only for grandpa we found him we said u took that form us and there was no other parks he said well i thought was both of them and then he said oh well she qualafies coz she is old i just looked at him grandmas a fit old woman she said well we did it in his memory anyway and i was allrite with that but think she handed it in the next week

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