I have a disability that isn’t always “detectable” upon first glance. A closer look reveals scars, crooked limbs and bone growths. I can’t walk very far, or stand for very long. I have had over 25 surgeries and I have an accessible parking pass that I do need to use more often than not.
Because my disability isn’t always detectable, I have faced a lot of rude, judgmental people in my days. I have dealt with people harassing me over my use of the accessible parking spots, mocking my physical differences in public, and I am constantly defending and advocating for my rights as a person with a disability.
This world is not accommodating for people with disabilities, there never seems to be enough accessible parking spaces, especially not at my kids school. It’s why I avoid picking them up and dropping them off. When they take the bus, I don’t have to worry about things like accessibility and distance walking.
But sometimes, I can’t avoid it. On Wednesday, I was called because one of my kids had an accident and didn’t have spare clothes. With fifteen minutes to spare before dismissal time, both accessible parking spots were occupied and so were all the others. I ended up having to park on the road, in a no parking zone. I tried to be as quick as I possibly could, but upon my return the crossing guard came at me, telling me that I couldn’t park there.
I tried to explain that I was disabled and unable to find close enough parking spot, but she cut me off. “You still can’t park there.”
I told her I was sorry but I couldn’t walk far and again she told me, rather rudely: “you can’t park there.”
Again, I told her I was sorry but I couldn’t park two blocks away from the school. This week, I’ve been having more issues with my ankle giving out and causing immense pain and even parking where I did wasn’t close enough.
The woman shook her head and said, “You still can’t park there.”
“So you’ve already said, and I’ve already parked here so you can stop now,” was my response, because really…she already told me. SEVERAL times. I was trying to hurry my kids into their seats so I could leave.
Then she proceeded to rant about me to the parents on the corner, about how “I can’t park there”. Of course, it wasn’t mentioned that I’m disabled and there wasn’t any other parking near enough to the school, just that I couldn’t park there because I was making her job more difficult.
Well, my freaking life is difficult, lady. I really don’t like spending my days complaining about it, but the simplest tasks that other people can do without issues are not so simple for me. I don’t like parking in no parking zones, but I also like to make it into the school without my ankle giving out and me collapsing.
I find that most able-bodied people look at our issues with scathing head shakes and frowns because we’re inconveniencing them. Instead of being a little empathetic when I explained my situation to her, this lady shamed me and made me feel as if I was the dirt beneath her crossing guard feet. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and quite upset over how she handled the situation. Informing me once about how I can’t park there is one thing, but speaking to me in such a condescending and rude way, then loudly ranting about me to other parents is uncalled for and frankly, unprofessional.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been treated in such a manner, and I know that it won’t be the last. But I’m through with putting up with it. I’m through with letting people think it’s acceptable to treat individuals with disabilities the way that they do.
My kids shouldn’t have to wait 45 minutes after dismissal time for an accessible parking spot to become available for my use. If the school had a few more accessible parking spots, I wouldn’t have to park in no parking zones when I need to pick up my kids and frankly, I shouldn’t be harassed when there’s no other accessible options for me. I’m not an asshole parent who was too lazy to park two blocks away and walk in, it was an accessibility issue for me and the crossing guard should have understood that as this isn’t something I do every single day. Hell, I’m rarely at the school because I want to avoid putting myself in a situation like this.
This is an issue I fully intend on tackling with the school and the board if need be, because the two accessible parking spots they have aren’t always accessible. They don’t like people parking there in the morning because it’s a safety issue as the bus drop off is right there, and if the accessible parking spots aren’t always accessible due to safety issues, they should be moved to an area where it’s accessible for the person who needs to use the spot and not a safety issue for the buses. If two accessible parking spots are not enough, another should be added if the need is there. Clearly, the need is there because I don’t want to park in no parking zones and be harassed.