Friday, February 22, 2013

Huh? So now you're the victim?

I was going post this after I finished up my trip report but we all came down with a nasty stomach virus a few days ago and I, obviously, haven't been able to work on blog posts.  I'll be back over the weekend.


We have a handicap parking placard for Anna.  Currently, the only place where we consistently need to use it is at the school parking lot when we pick up the girls.  The parking lot is fairly small compared to the size of the school and cannot accommodate all the parents picking up their kids.  Approximately 85-90% of the spaces are occupied by those working in the school so parking spots are created or parents park along the street or in a slightly larger parking lot across the street.  It's a crazy, hectic scene each afternoon.  Back in December, I watched a town parking enforcement car driving around.  For a few weeks, people stopped parking illegally (the "created" parking spaces) but now it is worse than ever.

There are only two handicap parking spots in this lot and right now, there is only one other parent (I actually think he's the grandparent) with a handicap placard.  On occasion, there have been other cars with handicap placards parked in the spots.  We park there because otherwise, it would be too long of a walk for Anna.

Is it ever okay for someone without a placard to park in a handicap space?

There have been an increasing number of incidents of parents, guardians, nannies, people parking in the handicap spaces without the appropriate tags.  Rich told me that on Thursday a guy in a pick-up truck (no placard) had taken one spot.  Rich had the other.  The other guy with a placard left a note on the pick-up truck's windshield.

It's not very often that Rich and I both pick up the girls from school together but on Friday we were able to.  He was telling me the story of the pick-up as we drove to the school and when we arrived, I was bit surprised to find two vehicles (a car and a Suburban) without visible placards parked in the handicap spots.  How ironic! The car was unoccupied and a young woman was sitting in the Suburban.  I jumped out of the van and walked between the two vehicles, looking for handicap plates or placards.  I was also looking at the ground because while the big blue handicap square was visible at the end of one parking space, it was not in the space where the Suburban was parked.

Without me saying or doing anything other than looking at the ground and at the backs of the vehicles, the woman in the Suburban rolled down her window and said, "This isn't a handicap spot."

"It is.  We park here everyday and these two spots are handicap."

"No, it's not.  It's not clearly marked.  That one is."

Because the Suburban was so big, I couldn't see the blue painted square on the pavement under it.

"If you pull out, I'll show you that it's handicap."

"No, it's not.  That one is.  Why don't you go find the woman who parked there?  She has blond hair and she's standing in front of the school right now."

That was a conversation, not an argument.

So I walked back to the van and stupidly enough asked Rich if I was wrong.  It had been more than two weeks since I had picked the girls up from school.  "Did they paint over the handicap sign or something?"

Now Rich was getting annoyed.  "No, it IS handicap."  I walked up to the front of the school and started looking for a blond woman I didn't recognize.  She wasn't too difficult to find.

"Excuse me?  Are you parked in a handicap spot?"


I opened my mouth to say, "No, but you shouldn't be parking there," but she took off running and quickly moved her car.  I returned to find Rich and the woman in the Suburban having a heated discussion.  Rich had asked her to move because she didn't have a placard.  He told her that we have a five year old with a handicap, which is why we have a placard and park there.  She told Rich that he was harassing her and the only reason why he was harassing her was because she was sitting in her car.  If she had been standing up at the front of the school, he wouldn't have been harassing her.

What the...?

Another parent walking by told Rich to call the police.

With Blondie's car out of the way, we were able to park the van and go wait for the girls to be released.  As we were strapping them into their car seats, Suburbia returned with her two boys.  As soon as she pulled out of the questionable parking space, guess what appeared right in the middle the pavement?  That's right.  The big blue painted box.

As soon as that happened, as soon as I saw the handicap mark, I started running (it was really a jog) after her SUV, calling out, "WAIT!"  She wasn't able to make it far in the crowded lot.  I didn't want to start an argument but rather prove a point.  This wasn't only about us but about the other parent (or grandparent) who has a legal right to park there.

"The spot is marked handicap!  Do you want to go back and see?"  I wasn't yelling.  Almost but not.

She SCREAMED at me.  "Really?  You want me to hold up traffic to go back and look?"  (All she really had to was drive around in a circle.)

"You insisted that it wasn't handicap and we told you that it was.  The proof is there now.  I have a child with a handicap which is why I need to park there.  You shouldn't have been parked there."

Her response - "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that your life is so terrible that you need to take it out on me."

Okay, so I like to think that I'm fairly witty and can think fast on my feet but this one just blew my mind.  I was speechless.  At that point, I didn't know that Rich had told her about Anna so apparently she'd had time to process this information and that was what she decided to do with it.

She then proceeded to tell me that I needed to step back and breathe and to listen to what I was saying.  Meanwhile, she's screaming all of this at me.  I can't even remember what I said because what was coming out of this woman's mouth was just unbelievable.

Finally, she screamed, "I'm sorry!  Is that what you want to hear?"

"Yes.  And don't do it again." I had to say it.

Her ending comment was "I can't wait to run into you somewhere else.  We both have kindergarteners, you know."

First of all, like I care.

Secondly, what does that even mean?  Is it a threat?  We know a ton of people in the school system.  How many kids attending school have spina bifida?  How many sets of identical triplets are there?  My kids are some of the smallest in the kindergarten class (plus they are really freaking cute) so they attract attention.  I have no doubt that our reputation will stand out over anything that this woman has to say.  Plus, what would she say?  I was parked in a handicap spot and they yelled at me.

We stopped by the police station on the way home.  The officer Rich spoke with was very understanding and told Rich that if it happens again to give them a call and they'll come down and ticket those parked in the spots without placards.  (I'm sure they would love the revenue.)

At first, I thought that maybe she had erroneously parked there.  But then it didn't make sense.  She started the discussion with us by telling us that it wasn't a handicap spot.  I hadn't said anything to her.  Maybe I had walked through there earlier and dropped something on the ground.  She deflected blame on the other woman to take attention away from herself and then she was extremely defensive.  Presumptuous of me (maybe) but I think she knew exactly what she was doing.  She just never expected anyone to confront her over it.

You know what, lady.  My life is pretty freaking great.  Maybe you need to look at yourself.


Anonymous said...

That woman was a bitch and I'm so glad you and Rich said something to her!

Mary L said...

I'm sorry that happened to you. Some people are really disturbed. I love how you handled it-you are a good Mom and advocate!

LEfting said...

What lucky little girls to have you as their advocate! Anyone parking in a handicapped spot deserves to have their license taken away for awhile and then maybe they will respect the signs. Good for you, and pity the poor people who have that awful lady in their lives!! What other horrible hurtful things must she say to them.
Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!!
Hugs to you and your lovely family.

Anonymous said...

Good for you!

Christi said...

I can't believe there is only two parking spaces for placards. Or that parents without cards park there. Good for being your holds advocate.

Ashlee said...

What an awful lady. I am so glad you stood up to her, I think you're right she never expected anyone to confront her her, and she probably thought you would back down when she got confrontational. I broke my ankle in November and told the doctor I didn't need a handicap sticker (though it would have been nice for school) even then I couldn't imagine taking those spots from someone who really needed it.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the suburban lady is bat shit crazy.

She knew she was absolutely wrong for parking there. I suppose she just had a really hard time accepting she got caught red handed.

Anonymous said...

My cousin had severe cerebral palsy. My Aunt had a van with the wheel chair lift. If someone was in a handicap space that didn't belong there (no placard or handicap plate) she would block them in if she could. She drove that van until she was in her 80's. She was a feisty old lady, but she had every right. Those spaces are there for a reason. People if you see a handicap space respect it and leave it for someone that needs it.


Emily said...

People suck. Especially the ones who think they are so entitled that they can break any rules they want without being held responsible. It's like she knew what she was doing but never thought anyone would have the balls to confront her. Way to go ... and I hope she learned her lesson.

Anonymous said...

What she did was illegal. And she knew it from the get-go. Illegal. The end. :)

Lesley/ Cape Cod

Sarah said...

Thanks for the support! We don't always park in a handicap spot either - I would feel terrible for taking one (especially when they are limited) when we could have gotten by without it. After school is tough - Anna is wiped out and can barely make the walk back to the van.

Raenstoirm said...

My real issue isn't the woman or the fact that she took that is the fact that she is teaching her kids that they are ENTITLED to it. It doesnt matter that there are real live people that need those spaces, her kids are too important to have to go where the other kids go. What a way to raise your kids! Her little princes and princess are gonna have a real fun time when they get into the real world and cant understand why everything doesn't cater to their every whim. These modern entitled kids drive me crazy!

Stef said...

Very frustrating and Im so sorry you had to deal with that stinker of a lady. Ive never run into someone non-handicap parking in a handicap spot but what I do run into a lot is non-handicap people or people without children/strollers using the larger bathroom stalls and dressing rooms. Drives me crazy. I cant squeeze myself and two littles plus a stroller into one of those tiny rooms. Though it is not illegal like the parking they are clearly marked for families or wheelchairs. People get too caught up in their worlds they don't stop to think much about others.

Danielle Reed said...

Wow. I can't believe you have written this blog post now. Just last week, I witnessed one of my best friends having to walk a long way to her car at school with her disabled daughter in the rain....because of selfish able bodied people taking up the disabled spots at school. So I have written out this note, and every day have been placing them on the illegally parked cars at school. Don't know if it helps, but makes me feel so much better. Maybe you could steal it, make it relivant to you, and do the same? I hate that this sort of arrogance goes on not only here in Australia, but all over the world! Anyway, here's my letter....

Dear abled/non-disabled people without disabled parking permit who use disabled parking spaces anyway,

I don’t care if you want to use the space “because it’s so convenient.”

I don’t care if you only “need” to use the space “just for a minute.”

I especially don’t care if you back up your illegal use of said disabled parking space with some bizarre justification like, “But some people FAKE being disabled to get these permits, so what’s the difference?” or “Well, if a person in a car with a disabled permit shows up, I’ll move” or “But there isn’t anyone disabled who needs to use the space here right now, so what’s the harm?”

The harm is there are about five cars with disabled permits who frequent our school, yet only four disabled parks in this car park. The harm is that a mother in this school, who is in a wheelchair has to then park down the back of the school, or in the teacher's car park just to get her children into school. The harm is last week, a mother with a daughter in a wheelchair had to walk her disabled child further in the rain, and then leave her sitting in a dangerous position whilst she lowered her hoist to put her child into the car. How would you feel if this child got sick, or even worse, hit by a car, simply for your "convenience".

Just don’t do it. It’s illegal and carries penalty of a possible fine for a reason.

This sort of legislation? Is not intended to benefit you, or be a convenient thing that you can take advantage of when you feel like it. Most of the world is already set up for you. These “convenient” parking spaces don’t have to be set up for your use, too.

Disabled parking spaces are actually an attempt to remove some of the obstacles facing people with a disability getting out and about and living their lives. Is it really so unreasonable to put aside a few parking spaces to make their life a bit less difficult? Or to allow a little extra space for those of use who use a wheelchair? Are some people just so busy and important that they can’t consider the needs of a person with a disability?

I myself have four little children. Yes, it can be difficult finding a park, getting all my (able bodied) kids out of the car, ferry them across busy roads, and into school. But I thank my lucky stars every day that I do not need that "special permit", as should you. You should be ashamed that you are teaching your children to be so selfish and ignorant.


An able bodied parent, with able bodied children, who is respectful and mindful of our other school community members.

Katie said...

That woman is a witch- what a horrible example to set for the children at the school. You were totally correct in the way you handled that situation. Next time I would just take her licence plate number and call the police station.

Maybe you could also call the school and ask if they could send out a reminder about the parking spaces?

Courtney said...

Have you contacted the school? Perhaps they can send out an email, make an announcement in the newsletter, or have teachers spread the word to stay out of the handicapped spots?

That mother should be ashamed of what she's teaching her kids.

Ali said...

I think I can literally feel my blood boiling!

She needs a good swift boot to her ass. I do hope you run into her again and I do hope she makes an ass of herself, again! UGH. But remember with every negative experience usually comes a really positive one so I hope that one comes soon and makes it into a blog post :)

Blessings! XO, Ali

(ps, and you are completely right... your girls ARE freaking cute.)

Anonymous said...

Good for you! What a horrible woman. I would certainly mention it to the school. The principal could add a little "reminder" to the school newsletter. Or better yet have someone from the school speak to the woman. It's not your job to enforce parking, it is the school's job.

Tatiana said...

Hello Sarah!
I'm a (very) long-time reader of your blog, just never knew how to introduce myself after such a long time...
Anyways, I just wanted to say your girls ARE really freaking cute and adorable, and I think you are a great mom (and Rich a great dad!), defending their rights whenever needed.
That's a good example for them and I'm sure they will be awesome people to the world! They already are. =)
All the best,
Tatiana (from Berlin, Germany)

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great example she is setting for her children what a horrible women I'm sorry u had to deal with tha!! Awful!!!

Anonymous said...

I read this blog often, but I have never commented. I can't believe this! What is wrong with people?! My first (non-generous) though was, "I hope you and your family do run into that woman and her kid somewhere else - and I hope your kids are way more successful at (whatever program it is)" But, that's not very charitable. So, I'll simply hope that she gets a ticket (or several!)

Mama Meerkat said...

That's awful. I'm all for calling the police when able bodied people take up handicap spaces.

Lisa L said...

What a sad, horrible person she is, especially since she had children with her. Guess she's one of those people who the the laws don't apply to.

Teej said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
caislas said...

Hello Sarah!
I read your blog since long, as I had mentioned earlier. I am the anonymous that left in one post the link of the child with SB in college. But now I'll sign with my name. I just wanted to locate me some how.

Two weeks ago I was taking a course about debates. I am not a good in debating, and I know in this world we need it. In the course I learn that in a debate does not matter who is right or wrong, it is who has a more convincing argument.

You are really good with words, as I can see on your posts. Also, my impression, is you are a person who cares. Wondering if there is a way to have fun, while helping others to get awareness of their acts with the skills that you posses. Specially, because only getting angry affects more to you and your love ones. In this case Rich, for sure.

Let me explain my crazy idea and/or suggestion.

I imagine the scene of the lady sitting in the car and you questioning if it is a place for people with special needs. It is good you got the name of the other lady, as she will be your next victim.
Now, with this lady sitting here, once you are in doubt if the place is for people for special needs or not, explain her, politely as you know how to do it, the need of these spaces. Actually you are in an active campaign to raise awareness of the need of parking spots for people with special needs because you cannot believe there are so few parking spaces available for them. Ask her if she is aware of this and their needs. You can easily give 30 sec reasons of why is needed.

Next, you can comment, that is actually a real concern to notice that people do not realised that even if the are "normal" one day they might need this spaces either due to an accident or sickness. Who hasn't broke a leg, for example.

Your upmost aim is that she agrees on the importance of this parking spots for people of special needs.

Then you will say I will report to the police that one spot is missing here. Let me take a photo of the location and under your car to demand a new spot. If you do not move the car, I can try to take it with my phone by bending down.

After realised the sign is there….

Oh I though you were understandable of this problem but it seems you are just gaining awareness. You are parking actually on a place reserved for people with special needs. Please would you be so kind to move your car and respect the location as we agreed it is important. Otherwise, due to the campaign, I must call the police to report when someone is breaking the law. I hope you help me to avoid to give your name or your car plates.

Perhaps all this "role-play" takes you 5 min. But will be very powerful time, because you gather evidence of the argument you were explaining earlier and which the person agreed with you. In this way, I guess you are creating awareness, and most importantly, it will be interesting to see the faces of them. You can report on your blog! :P part of the campaign (maybe this is not that sweet but well, due to stats perhaps) Most importantly, you will be fighting for your rights without the bad flavour of a real fight.

This is only a suggestion, good luck with all these!

marva said...

My little sister is handicapped too, and i know the trouble that comes with handicap parking spots. i always get SO angry and frustrated, because i would do EVERYTHING to not have to use that parking spot. I would give EVERYTHING to be able to park a mile away, and my sister WALK it and wouldn't have to use her wheelchair.
i saw one lady who made some cards that said "this is a handicap parking spot.
i hope you'll never need that spot like me." (it was german and right now i can't think of an english translation that makes sense, so excuse my bad english :D)
i'm planning on doing the same. make cards and HOPE that SOME people may think about it.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! You did exactly the right thing.

I don't have a child with any disabilities, but this type of thing really gets me too. While dropping my son off to school each day,I see so much stupidity by parents. It blows my mind the classlessness and entitlement some of these people show. It makes me sick, and it worries me because that is what they're teaching their kids.

Wendy said...

I'm so sorry that you had to deal with her ignorance. She knew she was in the wrong. No doubt about it. She should have apologized in a nice way.

Sarah said...

Good for you. I like Danielle's idea of having a note already printed and ready to put on cars. I may have to do that myself. My aunt is disabled and I find it very frustrating when we aren't able to find handicap parking.
I hope you do call the police the next time it happens.

Cha Yungco-Salvador said...

What really angered me was when she said that you have a terrible life and that you were taking it out on her. I can't believe she said that to you. What an awful lady. I think it's the other way around. She might be the one who's having a miserable life that's why she has that foul attitude.

Anonymous said...

I love the last line of this post. Your life IS pretty awesome.

Hope's Mama said...

You're awesome, that's what you are. Well done. You stood up for yourself, your family, your daughter and people with a disability everywhere. I'm really proud of you. I just don't get people. Not blowing my own horn, but this is just not something I would ever do, or have ever done.

Valerie said...

My husband thinks you should contact your local news. They can come out and interview anyone who feels like they deserve to park in a handicap spot illegally.

eileen said...

As an older person who has a handicapped sticker, I know how much they can be needed. I'm sure, in order to qualify, you had to submit information as to medical necessity. Therefore, regardless of the ignorant behavior you were subjected to, I respectfully think that you have an obligation to at least notify your school administration of this woman's illegal use of the space. You know she was "guilty" since SHE is the one who told you it wasn't a handicapped space before you ever spoke to her! How pathetic that when confronted with the truth she couldn't handle it AND what a wonderful example she set for her children too. Sorry that you experienced such idiocy and since I do believe that she could be capable of similar or even retaliatory behavior in the future, please at least let the school know and give them the opportunity to deal with her. Love reading your blog. I was touched by your story about your first daughter and have kept up with your sweet family ever since!

agirlandherhorses said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through that! What a horrid woman. I just have to say that, as a teacher, I feel terribly for her sons' teachers! Those kinds of parents always produce very ill-behaved, entitled children.

On the other hand, the teachers of YOUR precious darlings are so lucky!!!! They're positively adorable. Reading your blog makes me excited to have a little girl next to follow my little boy! :)

Nadine said...

Good for you! She deserved to be confronted. This happened to me at the mall. My mom had spinal surgery and was in a wheel chair and we tried to get into the handicap dressing room but it was occupied. I knocked on the door and the woman (who was not handicap) told me we would have to wait. I stayed calm, spoke to her, and she picked up her clothes and went to a different dressing room. She wasn't happy and spoke rudely. I was shocked I was able to keep calm. I really have no patience for rude people. I really wanted to say, "what are you so fat that you need the bigger room!!!" Well I am glad I didn't say that because then I would have been just as rude as she was. It feels good to say it here though :)