News Channel 5, according to the teaser for tonight’s broadcast, is doing a story about people who have unnecessary handicapped parking permits.
Now, I know where I fall on this issue. If you use a permit that you don’t need so you can wrangle a prime spot, then you are a Grade-A piece of fossilized vomit. Handicapped parking permits are for people who are, you know, handicapped.
But what got me (keeping in mind that I’ve just seen the teaser) was the salacious glimpse of the reporter yelling at a black woman getting into her car. “What’s your handicap?!?”
Couple of things:
First off, way to show the black woman. Nice going. Reinforce that ‘welfare queen’ stereotype in any subtle way possible. Cause we all know that the only people cheating the system are those black people. [Obligatory Disclaimer: Of COURSE this is sarcasm.]
Secondly, I really think it’s very crass to assume that just because someone’s not waddling into a store on stumps that they aren’t handicapped in some way. Sure, a lot of mobility limitations are obvious. If you need a hydraulic lift to get your wheelchair out of the back of your car, then no one is going to freak out over your brief sojourn in the blue spot. But what if, say, you are a cancer patient undergoing chemo? Or a person with lupus in the middle of a flare? Or a person with rheumatoid arthritis? These are conditions that cause intense pain and limit mobility. But they are also not generally visible to a stranger in a parking lot. I’d imagine that many of the apparently-healthy people you see getting out of a car with a handicap tag are truly suffering from a non-visible, high pain ailment.
I can be pretty naive, but not so much so that I don’t get that there are people who cheat the system. Close relatives of mine continued to use their husband/father’s handicap tag for a year after he died of colon cancer just because they really liked the easy and free parking. Again–fossilized vomit. But really. I’m satisfied to let karma/fate/universal justice sort them out. I’d like to think that we as a society have better manners than to enquire about a stranger’s ailment simply because he’s parked twenty feet closer to the door of the Kroger.