Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Get Outta That Spot!

For the past four weeks my son has attended a once a week after school enrichment program. Every Tuesday I eagerly watch for his school bus and when he doesn’t get off, I suddenly remember that I’m supposed to be picking him up. It’s a great system for a forgetful mom.

So I wait until four o’clock and I get in the minivan to drive the four minutes to his school. If we didn’t live next to a very busy street he could walk home almost as quickly as I could drive him.

And because about fifty other moms are making the same trek, our small elementary school parking lot is totally packed for the eight minutes it takes all of us to park, walk in the doors, take our child’s hand, and walk back out to our vans. We are all there for the exact same five minute window of time that these enrichment classes let out.

Ten minutes before that time the parking lot is empty. Ten minutes after it is empty again.

Every week I see something that drives me insane. And if a blog is for nothing else, it is for venting about things that drive you insane, even if no one else might care. So I am going to take my chance and air my grievances.

Every week, and I mean EVERY week, there are one or two moms who park in the two handicapped spaces right in front of the school. They are not always the same two moms and I have rarely actually seen the faces of said moms, but I am highly suspicious that they are not handicapped.

For one thing, there are no hang tags in the windows of these vans. For another, I have seen a few of the drivers actually get out and sprint to the doors, with that hurry in their step that says, “I’ll just be a minute….”

Now I hesitate to confront. I know firsthand that some disabilities are invisible to the naked eye. My metal leg tends to scream out validity, especially on the days I wear shorts. But I am sympathetic to the stares and judgment that some drivers must face when they live with things like weak hearts or lung conditions.

But the kicker of the story is that I DO own a handicap tag and I purposefully don’t park in those spaces. I am fully capable of finding a farther spot and making my way across the parking lot like the rest of the moms and dads. Occasionally I do have a bad leg day, so I dig out my hang tag and take a spot. But that is such a rare event I generally have to dig for five minutes to even find my tag in the bottom of the stack of maps.

So it makes me very protective of those bright blue wheelchair logos painted on the pavement. I am probably not the only parent or grandparent that doesn’t need it every day, but might need it some day. And if a selfish, lazy, running late parent tries to justify their use of the space, it personally offends me.

The rest of us are ‘just going to be a minute…” but we don’t use those spaces. The rest of us are busy and would love to shave five minutes off our errands by not trekking across the large parking lot. But we don’t. We either get there early enough for a closer space or we deal with the fact we might get a little bit of much needed exercise.

I’ve called the school. They have been very sympathetic and put notices in the school newsletters. Maybe the offending drivers see it, but I’m sure not all of them take the time to read the newsletter. So in the meantime they continue to use those sacred spaces for their personal running-late spots.

And it continues to bug me.

That’s all. I’ve said my peace. Now let’s return to your regularly scheduled program.


goofdad said...

My son Adam has one of those invisible diseases, and there are times he needs that hanger. I'm glad he has it. Like you, he doesn't use it for convenience, though (last month he lost it for two weeks ... in his own backpack!). I always feel sorry for him when people stare at him because they can't see what's wrong.

I don't want to sound mean spirited, but I have no respect for the people who use those spaces illegally merely for their own convenience. I'd say ask a police officer to start handing out "memo"s on what those blue spaces really mean!

GoddessLibrarian said...

This bugs me too. I'm glad you've said something to the school. I also get irritated when people park in fire lanes (like right in front of the library). I'm not quite sure why there are all of these special people in the world that get to play by special rules while the rest of us don't.

~ jessica said...

I just linked to your blog from another, and saw this post. My grandmother needed those spaces; my in-laws need them. It makes me angry to see people who don't need them taking them away from people I know who do.

The fines for illegally parking in a handicapped space are increasing, with good reason. I suggest calling the police; let them know what time this happens - every day - and ask them to send an officer out. A couple of fines should get the message across.