Posted: July 01, 2009
On management: Handicapped parking spaces
Why shouldn't I be able to use them?Pat Wiesner
I have a confession to make. I’m always the guy giving my opinion and advice like I know it all. And I’m not so sure you should really be paying attention to me. It has been an absolute revelation to see what has been happening to me because I have temporary access to a handicapped parking card for my car.
My self-image is being ruined by my desire to always have a handicapped parking place. Here’s how it came to pass.
I really never thought too much about them. I used to think there were too many because they always seemed empty. They’re not being used, so we don’t need them, I thought. Then my wife got a full knee replacement. It is major surgery, it’s tough, and true recovery takes up to 12 months. The first month was a lot of pain and a lot of physical therapy. Along with that came a handicapped parking hanger card for the front window of my car.
We have physical therapy three times a week and doctors appointments and other things we had to do, and so I quickly found myself looking for the “Handicapped Parking” signs, something I had never even thought of before. It took me all of two days to become hopelessly addicted to having access to this temporary perk.
I looked forward with great pleasure to my wife’s physical therapy (where she suffered greatly through her manipulations) so that I could park up close to the front door! I would rejoice if I got the No. 1 spot right in front of the door to the building, and I would be just a little perturbed if I found myself in the last handicapped spot with a few more steps to the hospital door.
Going to a restaurant was even more fun. I got to skip the valet and park directly in front of the door.
Worse than that is when they are all filled and I have to drop my wife at the door, park like an ordinary person in the far corner of the parking lot and walk to the building. As I would do this I would find myself circling through the handicapped parking area actually checking the license plates and for hanging cards for handicapped parking in the cars that were parked there. A small storm would build in me every time I found someone that was parked in what should have been my parking spot!
Two things happened that made me realize that I had gone too far and that I should really get help. The first was when we were on our way to the doctor’s office and I realized, “Oh no! I forgot the card!” I was devastated. I was going to have to drop my wife at the door and hoof it from the boonies myself to get to the doctor’s office.
Then I cheated. I was going to my office, alone with the card in my car. The parking lot was full except way out in the back. There were about eight handicapped spots right in front. I had the card … why not park right here? It will only be for a couple of hours. I looked around, no other cars, what’s the harm?
When I came out later, I thought for a minute that I might find flashing lights and guns drawn. That wasn’t the case and I escaped without incident and decided I probably would feel better if I didn’t do that again. It was wrong, but so tempting. My self-image was at stake.
Our card expires at the end of July so I have to get over it. Notice I say “our” card. It is really for my wife; it is not ours. She could never make it from the corner of the parking lot. If she’s by herself, she and other truly handicapped people absolutely need a close parking space or they cannot function. Fortunately, my wife will recover fully. But there are many handicapped people who must deal with these problems always.
It is good that we are a society where we think of these things and create ways to equalize life for people. But that card was really fun while it lasted.
Pat Wiesner is the retired CEO of WiesnerMedia, publisher of ColoradoBiz. He still leads sales training for the company. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.