Awhile ago my husband and I and I went to my favourite shopping centre, favourite centre because it contains my favourite clothes shop. Favourite clothes shop because of the fabulous clothes and just as importantly now fabulous customer service. I am always in my assisted wheelchair when we go and staff are so attentive and polite, in the changing room they always help me with zippers, buttons and so forth. They treat me with respect.
One of the hardest things I have found about being disabled is the necessity to have other people help you physically. It don’t matter how determined you are, if your body can’t, you can’t make it by sheer force of will. Having people prepared to help you out when you need it is worth its weight in gold but this vulnerability is galling when you are on the receiving end of the opposite behaviour.
On this awhile ago trip we were unable to park in a disabled space as they were all full, you know those spaces nearest the shop entrance clearly marked out with the attractive wheelchair logos that are usually filled with perfectly able bodied drivers loitering while they wait to pick up perfectly able bodied companion.
Anyway we parked in an ordinary space far away from the entrance and as Michael pushed me the distance to the entrance I noticed that a disabled space had become free. I suggested that we move the car into that space thinking if we legitimately occupied a disabled one it freed up a regular one for someone else. My husband left me in the empty, disabled space while he went to get the car and blow me if a car didn't try to pull into the space while I was sat in it. Picture it, disabled woman sat in wheelchair, sat in disabled space and car occupied by 3 healthy males tries to pull into it and park. Well of course they did it was the one displaying the attractive wheelchair logo nearest the shop entrance. The penny eventually dropped that I was unable to go anywhere so they drove off. I was irritated afterwards for ages, would they have liked the disability as well as the space? Methinks not.
Before I became disabled I would never park (well allow the driver to as I don’t drive) in a disabled space. I was too embarrassed to just be in the car, too conscious that someone could need the space and be denied it for what, laziness, convenience, selfishness, total lack of thought for A N Other? Take your pick because it’s still beyond me even after 5 years of disability.