It was not my “finest” hour. In fact, “decent” would be really stretching it. By nature, I am a lover… not a fighter. However, there is something about caring for a disabled individual that brings out the fighter in me.
It was a big day in the Miles’ household; we were playing in the championship game for State Cup. For all you soccer families out there, you already understand the magnitude of this game. For those of you who don’t know much about soccer, I have 5 words for you.
KIND. OF. A. BIG. DEAL.
We had divided the family into 2 cars because our soccer player needed to get to the fields early. Jason took everyone except Jacoby and I; we would finish getting ready and meet them at the fields.
When Jacoby and I arrived at Starfire Soccer Complex, you could feel the energy and excitement in the air. Not only had we made it to the State Cup Championships, but it was also on the field that could be easily seen from the comfort of your WARM van. Go out in the rain and risk the symptoms of getting too cold (very serious for those who are in wheelchairs), or watch from an 80 degree environment in the car… hard choice, right? All we needed was one of the disabled spots to be available in the front row.
And then we saw it… One disabled spot left. Thank you, Lord… I said under my breath. Almost out of nowhere, a Tahoe pulled into the empty disabled spot. My stomach sank. Dang! That was the perfect spot. But, I knew she had rightfully beat me to the punch; we could find something else. However, it wasn’t going to be easy. The parking lot was packed to the brim, so we just pulled to the side of the parking lot to survey our options.
That’s when I started watching her; the woman with the Tahoe. She was dressed from head to toe in “legit” running gear, and started jogging in place. It appeared she was warming up to go on a run. That’s interesting. I quickly reminded myself not to jump to conclusions; there are many disabilities that are not visible from the outside. I looked for the disabled parking tag in her window… No tag.
About this time, a young maintenance man in a golf cart pulled up next to my window. He told me I was going to have to move the car because we weren’t in a proper spot. I told him we would move right away, but I was concerned the woman in the Tahoe did not have a disabled parking tag. I told him it’s easy to forget to put it in the window, so I wasn’t trying to come across as accusing, but wanted to check since she didn’t have it up and appeared to be going jogging.
He proceeded to walk over to the women who was just walking away from her car. I could tell he was asking her if she had a disabled parking tag. She angrily walked back to her car, got in and backed up. She stopped to look over at me before she pulled away. She rolled down her window, flipped me off and then yelled, “B_t_h!!!”
At that very moment, something in me snapped. I was not on my best behavior. Hot tears filled my eyes as I waved at her mockingly and said, “Right back at ya, sweet cheeks”. The lady quickly pulled into a parking spot that had just opened up about 3 spots down.
My heart started racing. I just KNEW she was coming over to start something. The “normal” me would have been scared to death, and would have immediately locked all the doors and called 911 if needed. Truth.
But not this time. Not this day. No, I looked back to Jacoby through the rear view mirror and said, “Your mom is getting in a fight today… And I’m gonna win!” And I WOULD have… That’s how fed up I was with everything. That woman had NO idea she would have been fighting against emotions of sorrow, loss and deep pain over a child, not a stupid parking spot.
I TRUELY believe God didn’t allow that women to walk over to my van that day. He was thinking about the precious, nervous girl sitting behind me AND His worn-down, heartbroken momma in the front seat.
Now please understand, I am not trying to advocate fighting. I am simply trying to make a point about something that seems like “no big deal” to many people, and yet is of extreme importance to others. The importance of disabled parking is on the agenda today, my friends.
Before I start, please know I am NEVER condemning any of you. Trust me, before Jacoby’s accident, I was the worst offender. Not on purpose, just out of complete ignorance.
Sadly, I was once the person who said things like:
“Why can’t they just park in a regular spot, they always get the best spots.”
“Why can’t we use the disabled parking spot if no one is in it?”
“Why can’t we park in the “striped” area next to the disabled spot? Now they get TWO spots?”
See, you are in good company! Let me answer these questions I asked myself just a few short years ago.
*The reason why they receive the “best spots” in the front is because it’s normally an effort just to get out of the car.
-In a wheelchair, you would not want them out in the middle of the parking lot because it would be easy to not see them.
-For someone who may not be in a wheelchair, but struggle with chronic pain, they only have so many steps before they begin to experience excruciating physical difficulty. So if they have to park at a far distance from the entrance, they already started “dipping” into their treasured and scarce energy source.
-Disabled individuals need to be in the front spots due to weather conditions as well. As many of you, we live in the Northwest. Rain is a “constant” friend here. When the disabled get wet and chilled, it takes hours to warm the up. Sometimes, it can take all day; they need to be close to the entrance.
*We wouldn’t want to use the disabled parking spot, even if it’s empty because at any point, someone disabled could be in desperate need of that spot. For all the reasons I listed above and so many more that I didn’t, PLEASE burn the calories and park in a different spot. Consider it part of your life-long fitness plan.
*What is that “striped” line all about?
The striped line spot next to the disabled parking spot is actually very important. This spot is there for those individuals who are in wheelchairs.
Once they park, they need to be able to get out of the vehicle. A ramp extends out of the vehicle as a way for them to drive out of the car. The “striped” spot is the space needed for the ramp to come out.
Next time you are tempted to use a disabled parking spot, ask yourself:
“Do my legs work….do I struggle with debilitating chronic pain?”
If not, then thank God and park somewhere else!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”