Dear young able-bodied couple parked in the HP spot at Dunkin Donuts,
Normally, when I see a car parked in an HP spot, I look first for a handicapped placard or special “handyman” license plate, as my husband Geoff calls them affectionately. Not seeing one, I sometimes wait for the person to return to his/her car to see if perhaps they are, unfortunately, needing to use crutches or perhaps a walker to justify the parking. But if, like you were on that snowy morning in Lincoln, NH, you were just walking back to your car with a mochaccino in one hand and a cinnamon raisin bagel in the other, I normally would remind you, politely of course, that HP spots are reserved for people with disabilities. Normally, people apologize profusely, explaining that they were just running late or needed to make just a quick stop. Depending on my mood and the attitude of the defendant, I might make a joke to make them feel better or worse about their lazy actions and say something to the effect of, “There aren’t many perks to being paralyzed and using a wheelchair, but parking sure is one of them.”
Here is what I observed: your car lacked such HP labeling; you both walked with an easy gait, laughing with one another, excited to be in our mountain town, perhaps on a romantic getaway. Perhaps one of you was missing a limb and wore a prosthetic the world could not see? But still, you should have a sign on your car. But on this snowy morning, I needed to get to work on time. I didn’t have spare moments to lecture on disability awareness or the self actualization required to pay attention to one’s surroundings. “Oh, that giant sign? We didn’t see it.” But really you were thinking, “Well, we did see it, but then we thought how many disabled people would be at a Dunkin Donuts at 6:45 am in Lincoln, NH?” Or, maybe you were thinking, “I’ll be really quick, and there are two spots, so if someone does pull in, they will be okay.” You are human and make mistakes; we all do. Geoff doesn’t always use an HP spot if there aren’t a lot available mostly because he believes people with more of disability might need it. If we take my car and forget to grab his placard, we won’t park in HP regardless of where we are visiting.
I took a picture of your license plate and thought about using that for my attached photo. You were from Massachusetts, but I won’t hold that against you. We have a lot of dear friends from MA, and my brother, sister in law and sweet nieces live there. But there are plenty of people right here in NH, and probably in every state of our Union, who unjustly park in handicapped parking when they should not. But I’m going to hope that this note serves as a reminder for all of us that the following resasons are not good enough to take a reserved spot–without proper signage– for someone who needs it more than you do– even if you are in a tiny town like Lincoln, NH and the time on your dash reads 6:45 AM. Fun fact, for your information, Lincoln Woodstock is a MECCA for disabled people, and we welcome them always!
These excuses do not qualify for HP parking:
- You are late.
- You are tired.
- You are hungover.
- You are overweight.
- You are grumpy.
- You are only going to be a minute.
- You are retired.
- You are lazy.
- Your spouse or parent is disabled– BUT they are not in the vehicle.
- You just didn’t know any better.
I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and using soft eyes because I’m a kind and thoughtful person, and you ought to be too. The world doesn’t revolve around you or your black Saab or the lady friend you handed the mochaccino to upon exiting the DD. No, no, I was not stalking you; nor am I an undercover police officer, drug enforcement officer, or insurance agent. But I could be, so be careful out there!
The lady in the green Subaru with the two children (whose dad is paralyzed) staring you down in the DD parking lot last week…