Wednesday, July 7, 2010

31. Handicapped

I was visiting my mom last week-end in California. She has Stage 4 Cancer. Sometimes, it can be hard for her to walk around long distances because she is having trouble breathing, and other times she is merely fatigued. Either way, her doctor told her she had the right to get a Handicapped placard for her car. He signed the paperwork and voila! Now she can park pretty much anywhere. This includes blue zones, while zones, metered spots, yellow, red, and the sidewalk in front of the airport. She is overjoyed with this tiny sliver of good news and observes wryly that at least Cancer does provide some benefits.

I drive her where she needs to go, let her out of the car thisclose to the destination, and then I go look for a parking place (unfortunately, sometimes the Handicapped spots might be already taken by other Handicapped people, so I might have to drive and see if another Handicapped spot is available). I youthfully (well, if 40 can be called "youthful") hop out of the car and then zip over on foot to meet her at the bank/ Post Office/ pharmacy (choose one). I get a lot of dirty looks! This I did not expect. It's because I don't look Handicapped (or, as The Husband likes to call it, "Handi-capable"); and, in fact, I'm not Handicapped. I'm mobile. I actually went for a 3-mile run this morning.

Why the sour attitude from the random public? They think I am "faking" it to get a better parking spot. They think I am scamming the system. It does not occur to them, as it did not occur to me before I had to drive my mom places, that I am merely the driver and the Handicapped person was just dropped off to make her life a tiny bit easier.

On behalf of my former self, the one that scowled at seemingly young and "able-bodied" individuals as they snagged the best parking spots and whipped out their Handicapped placards: I'm sorry. I now realize that you were the driver. Please forgive my sneers, scowls, and the one time I may have "accidentally" dumped my soda on the hood of your SUV. Forgive me, because I did not know.

Now I do.

("Metropolis Or Vicinity")

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