The Princess Pass
There's a charming little phrase I've seen printed on towels and decorative signs that goes, "You never know how many friends you have until you buy a beach house." This is also true, I think, of being in possession of a disabled parking placard.
I'm not naming names here or coming to conclusions but some of my family and friends seem absolutely giddy when taking me somewhere over the fact that I have this magic little piece of blue and white plastic that grants special privileges, namely the permission to park up close—and in some cases, for free. And every time I climb into the car to embark on a trip that will lead to parking I get asked the same thing, "do you have your parking permit with you?" Seriously, if one more person asks me that I'm gonna backhand 'em! Yes, yes, yes already! I have my stupid placard, I have my stupid placard. Don't I always have my placard? Have you even known me in the last 14 months to not have my placard with me?? Geez! You'd think that they were the ones with the disability! Like they just couldn't handle actually walking a few more feet!
I mean, I will admit that it does come in handy but it also carries that old stigma with it: disabled person aboard. Person-with-inability-to-walk- independently-who needs constant supervision and-must-abide-the-constant-refrain-"do-you-need- help?" parking here. Frankly I think the people who really should have to display that placard are the ones who apparently have a parking disability! You know the type, can't seem to stay between the lines or park so close you have to suck your stomach up against your spine to wedge in or out of your car!
And while we're on the subject…some disabled parking spaces have their own disabilities! I mean, those of us with physical disabilities that prevent us from walking well—or far—are most likely afflicted from the waist down, meaning that getting in and out of the car can be a chore. And yet, we parked in one on-street handicapped spot which was alongside a regular curb with no curb cut for wheelchairs or those of us with stepping up issues. The closest curb cut was down the street a full block at the corner! Other spaces are no wider than—and side by side like—non-handicapped spaces meaning that you not only have to focus on how in the heck to get that knee bent enough in order to get your foot out the door but you have to mind that the door doesn't open so wide that it scraps the car next door! And can I just say that places like hospitals and rehab centers should triple the number of disabled parking spaces they have? I mean, seriously, if you are going to look for a place where us disabled folks are going to hang out in large numbers it's most likely going to be the rehab center more than the local Target store!
Anyway, as handy as that little placard might be at garnering primo parking places and new friends, it still is a stigma symbol. Unless I rethink it the way my friend did recently who called it my "princess pass." That's right! It's not a stigma symbol, it's a status symbol! It's my pass because I'm the princess and require royal treatment and special privileges. Yeah! I'm the Princess! Outta my way! Now, if it could only be recreated in a lovely shade of pink!