22 October 2015

Disabled Parking Anxiety

Story time, this is gonna be a long one. Once upon a time, when I was in the sixth form I used to drive to school because we live in the middle of nowhere and I was too classy to take the bus (never ready on time). This meant that I could drive my crappy body to the shop to grab some lunch because it was too far for me to walk. One miserable day me and a friend headed to co-op to grab a sandwich and probably some doughnuts because who doesn't love a good doughnut? As I am a disabled girl who is a blue badge holder I parked in a disabled space. Makes sense right? When I got out I noticed a guy giving me evils but I ignored him and went and got my foods.

Clearly too fabulous to be disabled.

When I came out the same guy was waiting for me by my car. He told me that I needed my disabled family member with me to park in that space and I couldn't just use my Grans badge because I felt like it. I politely told him I was the disabled member and tried to get to my car. He kept shouting at me, demanding to see my blue badge. It was raining, I was getting cold and wet and he let his giant boxer jump all over me. Now I'm a huge fan of dogs but it is extremely intimidating of a stranger to let his giant dog jump on a teenage girl let alone one who has said she is disabled. It nearly knocked me on my ass. He kept saying there was nothing wrong with me until I gave in a showed him that the photo on my disabled badge was in fact my face *Shock horror*. He had no right to pressure me into showing him personal information but it was the only way I could get him out of the way so I could actually get into my car. The police were contacted and he was found and cautioned and I'm pretty sure he wont do it again.

Since then I've had to start using my chair a lot more so it is very rare that I walk into a shop now. However, if I'm on my own and am walking a short distance I freak out that it'll happen again. I don't have the energy to fight my corner. Not that I should have to. I know I don't have to explain myself to anyone but when people are getting arsey and judging you you kinda feel like you have to defend yourself. Its human nature.

The other day I went shopping and took Wilfred, my electric wheelchair, because I wasn't feeling well enough to manually propel myself. I pulled into the disabled parking space singing loudly to Spice Girls. The guy in the car next to me was blatantly staring at me. Like not even trying to hide it. I mean I know I'm fabulous and my singing is top notch but really? I put my badge in the window and got out the car with him still watching my every move. Even when I made eye contact and smiled he still stared. Didn't even smile back. RUDE.

Annnnd then I killed poor Wilfred. I caught one of the wires trying to get him out the car and ripped it out. I then had to wrestle to get a broken electric wheelchair back into the car which was exhausting. The whole time this guy was watching me. I then felt like I was doing some sort of walk of shame when I walked away from my car without my chair. I spent the whole shop paranoid that I was being judged regardless of the fact that I was relying heavily on the trolley to support me. A trolley which only actually had two things in it.

Then came time to leave the shop and I realised I was panicking. I was actually freaking out that the weird staring guy was still going to be there and question me and I really wasn't in the mood to explain myself to ignorant strangers. Plus I'm one of those people that bursts into tears when they get angry which would just be totes awks. For a few seconds I was actually scared to return to my car because my disability is always questioned, even by medical professionals.

I have also been in a shop where I have almost asked the security guy if he would walk me out to my car because an angry looking guy had watched me walk into the shop and hovered around my car checking my badge.

I should not have to be walked to my car because people feel entitled to know what is wrong with me and know my full medical history. Chances are even if I told them what was wrong they wouldn't believe me because they've never heard of it and I'm "Too young" to be disabled.

NOT ALL DISABLED PEOPLE USE A WHEELCHAIR. It's not that difficult to get your head around. There are many reasons people need a disabled space which don't involve a wheelchair.

It is none of your business what is wrong with them and what makes them require that space. None, zip, nada. There is literally no reason you need to know why they get a badge. 

Also whilst we're on the subject YOUNG PEOPLE CAN BE DISABLED TOO. Not that difficult to get your head around either. To pretty simple concepts. If you wouldn't ask a walking old lady why she was parked in a disabled space dont ask a walking young girl. Simple. And personally, I have seen more old people parking in spaces when they are not entitled to than young people. Some Older people class it as their right as an older person. I've even had one man tell me that.

So next time you see someone who doesn't fit your idea of disabled parking in a disabled space Please don't stare and make them feel so uncomfortable they are scared to return to their car.

If you got to the end thank you so much for reading and give yourself a gold star.


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