Sunday, November 1, 2015

Things People Say



After driving through the carwash with a mesmerized Sophie, our outing of late that relieves my guilt at not providing enough stimulation, I pulled into a local small restaurant to pick up some food for the workers who are turning my yard into a drought-tolerant paradise. I intended to leave Sophie in the car while I ordered at the outside counter, within eye-shot, in a handicapped space. The spot was filled, though, with a large, red SUV so I pulled into another spot around the corner and took Sophie out. We made our way awkwardly up to the counter (Sophie isn't walking very well these days which I'm attributing to drug withdrawals, but who the hell knows?), and because the handicapped spot is right next to the counter, I saw that there was no indication a handicapped person was in fact using it. In other words, there was no license plate or placard hanging from the rear-view mirror. I waited in a long line, keeping Sophie from sitting on the pavement, one eye on the spot, in hopes that I might call out the person who was using it without a placard. I could see inside the small restaurant, how every table was full but that there were no visible indications of disability. This doesn't mean anything. When I finally got to the window to order, I told the cashier that someone was parked in the handicapped spot without a placard, that I had a handicapped daughter and had to park a distance away, that I hoped he could find the person who had parked there and perhaps let them know. He smiled incomprehensibly at me and told me that he'd let his manager know. I ordered. He did not make any attempt to let his manager know and continued to take orders.

I girded my loins.

Excuse me, I asked a couple dipping curly fries into a white cup of ketchup, is that your red Honda in the handicapped spot?

I asked another couple with two small children the same thing.

I asked a family identically clothed in USC red and gold tee-shirts as well. I tried not to let their choice of college sport regalia affect me, pulled my loincloth a bit tighter.

Excuse me, is that your red Honda in the handicapped spot?

The man rose up and said, Yes, that's mine, and he turned to his wife, and she said, Oh! We forgot to put our placard up! 

And I said, Oh, thank you because I was going to be so upset if it was just someone using the spot! 

And she said, I always forget! I'm physically handicapped, but sometimes I'm retarded, too!















This is, of course, an equal opportunity post.




39 comments:

  1. Ugh! Ignorance is not bliss!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't even know what to say.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, sweet Jesus. The things people say. Oy. xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. My outward response was a loud, UGHHHHH! People are such assholes sometimes. I'm sorry for her ignorant words. Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I feel like this an April Fool's joke, but as it's November 1st...bleh. No words will do justice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow...didn't see that coming! I'm sure it was a *blink* *blink* moment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. fuckwit. asshat. dipshit. douchebag of a woman.

    ReplyDelete
  8. speechless.

    but may i confess a tinge of amusement at you asking people if that was their car? we are more alike than you know.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Of course she's handicapped....she has a broom up her ass.

    ReplyDelete
  10. She did not say that. How ignorant. Mind blowing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You just can't make this sh*t up! Oye.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow. I had a wheelchair bound friend who found out who was parked in the handicapped spot at school and she approached him. He actually admitted it was him grandmother's car!! Wow.

    The photo of Soph is beautiful. Sweet girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wheelchair bound? Wheelchair user. Thanks.

      Delete
  13. It goes on and on, doesn't it... But that's a great shot of Sophie.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A couple of months ago I was going to the movies - a woman and her daughter pulled into the handicapped space a couple of spaces down from me. Placard in truck. They jumped out of the car and sauntered up to the counter to pay. I said... excuse me but I just wondered if you're sure you need that spot?...The woman turned around and started screaming!! at me that she was handicapped and what the fuck business was it of mine? I said...well, if you were really handicapped and someone cheated you out of that spot you would be pissed off, and I would be the person speaking up for you. She said...mind your fucking business you C..T. I thought... Hmmm, maybe you can get a placard for being mentally ill. If so, then she definitely would have qualified.

    Love Sophie's pretty hairstyle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blink.

      Have we substituted "mentally ill" for "retarded" here, in terms of which individuals to look down upon in this world, for conditions and circumstances beyond their control?

      Delete
    2. I appreciate this story, especially your mission to discover the culprit, as that is definitely the kind of thing I would have done. But, I also am a irked by some of the aggressive comments about the woman here. People misspeak. They make mistakes. I would assume this woman did not get the memo that as of about 30 years ago, no one says "retarded"anymore, because it's rude and hurtful. I would also assume that she would be horrified to know how you felt about it and would kick herself and regret it and feel sick about it and take it back in a heartbeat. Yes, it's a story worth your retelling - no question there- but I don't think that makes it 'open season' on this unidentified, physically-challenged elderly women. I am sensitive about how eager "The Internet" is these days to pile on the shame and blame. That seems to me at least as unfair or unkind as was this woman's poor choice in words.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for your comment, Lyonmom. I disagree with your "open season" description. I did not identify the woman as elderly. She was not. She was young with young children. I made no judgement about her choice of words but chose to write about it more as an obervation. That's why I titled it Things People Say. I did want to illustrate my conviction, though, that the cognitively disabled, the "retarded," are often the lowest on the totem pole, EVEN put down by those with physical disabilities. Agaon, yes. People do make mistakes and misspeak. My job as a writer is to o serve these instances as they relate to me and then tell the story as I see it. For whatever reason, this young mother equated her carelessness in using her handicapped placard as being that of a retard." As a writer, I'm grateful for the material because you can't make that shit up.

      Delete
    4. liv -- Your encounter with this very rude lady certainly sounds upsetting. I have to say, though, that it's irksome to many in the disability community -- particularly those that have "invisible" disabilities -- that we have to somehow "prove" our disability to warrant the privilege of the placard. I won't defend the woman's response because it sounds disturbed and far beyond what the situation warranted.

      Delete
    5. JoyMama -- I think you were replying to liv's comment, and I'd have to agree with you. As I understand it, the disability placard can most definitely be used for a mental illness designation. My point in the post was to point out that the cognitively disabled, the "retarded" are often denigrated even by those with physical handicaps. I also referred to the fact that disabilities are often invisible -- that was why I wrote that it didn't mean much when I didn't "see" a person with a disability inside the restaurant.

      Delete
    6. "liv -- Your encounter with this very rude lady certainly sounds upsetting. I have to say, though, that it's irksome to many in the disability community -- particularly those that have "invisible" disabilities "

      Yup. I would not respond favorably to someone questioning me about my use of a handicapped spot (have placard), though to them they may see no visible disability whatsoever. If you suspect someone is fraudulently using a placard take it up with the proper authorities and leave people displaying the legitimate identification alone. Disabled people do not need "vigilante" citizens harassing them when they go out in public (which, for some, might be a huge, difficult ordeal and/or rare occurrence to begin with), on top of the all the other things they are already dealing with. As far as I know I don't think even the police are allowed to question your disability--only your paperwork, whether it is in your name and whether, etc., and that is how it should be. It is between that person and their doctor and whoever authorizes the handicap placard applications what the actual disability is and whether it qualifies.

      Assuming you are needed to speak on their behalf or that they should be grateful for your intrusion because you have designated yourself the voice for the handicapped in this matter is condescending.

      My suggestion: Please think twice before doing this and take the time educate yourself on disabilities that may require accommodation while not being visible to your eyes. If you yourself are not disabled (or even if you are, disabilities range widely especially in their "visibility"), you may also want to take the time explore your privilege and/or lack of knowledge in this area, as I think issues come up in your actions, your response to the person, and your tone and attitude that comes across in your comment.

      You may also want to familiarize yourself with disabled rights laws to see how this issue (disability rights and privacy of medical information) is treated in more formal situations (such as in a business, in housing, etc.) In pretty much every situation disabled people do NOT have to prove or reveal their specific disability to the random worker, landlord, etc, and are not to be questioned about it in that way, and that is by law and there is good reason for it. The random worker, just like the random person, is not qualified to judge such matters nor are they nor should they be privy to one's private medical information.

      If you really feel someone is abusing a spot, though again I have no idea how you could know that by just looking, regardless of if they are sauntering or whatever else, report the person to the appropriate authorities. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-laz-reporting-disabled-placard-fraud-20150506-column.html
      Please excuse my tone as well if it seems angry. Though, yes, this issue does make me angry, I do not intend to attack you but rather to speak to the issue and to the behavior I find troubling.

      Delete
  15. wow -- thanks for the story, elizabeth.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful picture of Sophie. Love her long hair.

    What to say? My MIL would have said the same without a thought. That and worse, as she grew up using terminology that is unacceptable universally today. She was starting with her dementia an senility when the "R" word campaign started and she never even became aware of that. There are places I go, where people without thee excuses, that are unaware as well. Who is going to inform them?

    I am glad that the space was taken by a legitimate person, and I'm also glad that you made enough of a case about it that some people there could get the fear of being targeted if they so dared as many too often do, to take a handicapped space without the right to do so. For many, there are not enough consequences or none at all to doing so.

    The cashier should have let the manager know and either of them should have made an announcement asking who was parked in that handicapped spot, so that if the spot were taken by those not entitled to it, they could be told to move it. That you took the time and trouble to ask was great, but should not have been necessary.

    But the woman who made that comment....that's the way it is too often with a large number of people. And what to do about that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all have to consistently make them aware. I had Sophie with me when the woman made the remark, and frankly, I was sort of shocked, so I said nothing. Perhaps that makes me complicit.

      Delete
    2. I think you exercised good judgement even though it did make you complicit. I don't think I would have been able to say a word either. It's just proof positive that we have a long, long way to go with the campaign eliminating the use of that word. Frankly, I think it will go the way of "moron", "imbecile", "idiot", and be dropped from use as a medical term--I believe that DSM-V replaced that term, did it not? To eradicate it from the population at large does not look like it's happening, at least now where I have been. People have no clue that it's offensive, none, and any admonitions are met with total disbelief and doesn't do a bit of good in such quarters. One can clean it out from one's immediate area, especially if a dear one is intellectually disabled, but otherwise, I see no progress. I just hope it that there is some abatement in the use of the term ot directly and deliberately insult those personally affected.

      Delete
  17. Well, thank goodness they really DID have a placard, although that woman's remark was pretty clueless!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Deep breaths over here. I am choosing to focus on the fact that you were out buying food for the folks who are working hard in your yard. I am so sorry that you and Sophie had to deal with that. Your goodness and light truly do make the world a better place, even if it isn't always apparent in everyone you meet.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Replies
    1. You mean HER, right? And I did not. I was, for once, struck dumb by the insanity of it all.

      Delete
  20. A placard for the mentally ill? Hmm? I find that a little hurtful. Especially today when it took all my strength to get out of bed, go to work and treat all my patients with love, dignity and respect. I got home and crawled into bed, exhausted and in tears. I gave everything to everyone else today. Words do hurt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Birdie. I hope we can hash these things out and bring awareness. I'm sorry for your day.

      Delete
  21. What I like most about this is how you waked around the restaurant determined to straighten the issue by yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  22. That made my stomach drop. Elizabeth, I am fascinated and awed by you.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...