Monday, June 24, 2013

Parking Lot Escapades

Handicapped Parking, muscular dystrophy, handicap parking

Because of my Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) and how quickly I can tire, I park in the disabled parking.  CMT is generally not one of those diseases that is readily noticable and, as a result, I have had some interesting encounters in parking lots.  There's always someone who feels entitled to a detailed accounting of my entire medical record.  They are what I affectionately call the parking lot nazis.

I've been yelled at by a shopping cart attendant at Target who thought that only people with missing legs qualified to park in disabled parking.  People who have walked past the car and told me I'm not allowed to park there because I don't have a disabled placard hanging from my rearview mirror....... uh, I have a disabled license plate.  And even some who've had the gall to say "you don't look disabled".  While I find some of these remarks rude, I do appreciate that these people are actually being protective of the disabled parking against those who are able-bodied but too lazy to park in regular parking spaces.

But then there are those few gifted souls who bring out that little redheaded devil in me that I sometimes have a hard time keeping under control.  One such instance happened just after we'd moved back to Texas.  I had just walked up to my car in the Walmart parking lot with an entire grocery cart full of groceries when I encountered one such parking lot nazi.  

I noticed him as he was exiting his car because of the sheer number of religious bumper stickers plastered all over the trunk and rear bumper of his car.  There wasn't a speck of paint or chrome visible.  Bumper sticker on top of bumper sticker and turned every which way.  The driver of that car walked straight over to me as I was trying to lift a case pack of water into the back of my car.  I thought maybe he was coming to help.  Apparently my thought pattern and his were off just a touch as he launched into a rant wanting to know why I was parked in disabled parking.  He used the reasoning that since he was going to make a purchase at Walmart, he will be paying for that space and thus, as the "owner", was entitled to my entire medical history.  Well, as you can probably guess, that didn't sit well with a fiery tempered redhead.  With a deep breath to calm my temper, I used his logic and asked him to please provide his medical information first since my purchase was, in fact, already complete.  In an ironic twist of fate, he didn't care to divulge when his last prostate exam was and what his PSA numbers were.  I also don't think he appreciated my redheaded humor when I asked if he'd had a colonoscopy and if they had been successful in locating his head.

Right then, out of nowhere, a woman of considerable height and muscular build appeared and with her index finger in his chest, gave him quite the tongue lashing.  Like a scalded dog, he jumped back in his car, backed out of his parking space, rolled down his windows and told us we were number 1.  Being the typical redhead who always has to have the last word - and seeing the 500 Jesus bumper stickers plastered to his bumper - I yelled "Jesus saw that!".  With a squeal of his tires, he was gone.  The woman chuckled and said "I think he was in a hurry to get to church and repent.".

One of the funniest experiences though was my encounter with a woman in her mid to late 80's at the Meijer grocery store in Champaign, IL.  She carried one of those great big black patent leather purses which was large enough to hold the entire contents of a kitchen pantry, as well as a shotgun.  I had just walked out of the grocery store with my groceries and was unlocking my tailgate when the elderly woman walked up to me and stopped.  She asked "What right do you have to park here?!".  I flipped around and was about to give a hot retort when I realized that she had that lethal weapon of a purse poised to bash me upside the head if she didn't like my answer!  I immediately threw my hands up in the air and said "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!  Take it easy there!".  She apparently did not appreciate that response and cocked her arm back a little further and reset her aim to align perfectly with my skull.  "Why-are-you-parked-here?!" she asked quite angrily.  Being that she reminded me so much of my feisty late Grandmother and my choices were either to answer honestly or wake up in the E.R., I chose to give this total stranger my medical diagnosis.

She instantly lowered her purse and apologized profusely.  And then if nearly being clobbered with a 50 pound purse wasn't bad enough, she literally elbowed me in the ribs to move me out of the way and started loading all of my groceries into my van.  When I told her I was quite capable of handling my own groceries, she gave me the grandma "don't  back talk me" look.  I threw my hands up in the air and rubbing my bruised ribs, backed off.  I knew better than to mess with this granny!  When she was almost done, a friend of hers walked up and grabbed her by the arm "Are you harassing another young person about parking here?!  Don't you see there are 15 other spaces available?  And look at yourself!  Acting like some kind of parking police!  You should be ashamed of yourself!  And you have obviously embarrassed yourself enough AGAIN that you are putting all this woman's groceries in her car as some form of penance when you should be going to confession!".  The friend while keeping hold of the woman's elbow, smiled at me and apologized for her friend's behavior, and marched her into the store griping at her every step of the way about how it might be time to take her car keys away and call her children.

These 2 ladies could've been straight off a skit from Saturday Night Live.  Instead of "The Church Ladies", they could be "The Purse Ladies".  I laughed the whole way home from that escapade not only because of the way these 2 friends interacted with each other, but because I can see me and my best friend doing this in 30 years or so.

And I bet you thought the only excitement to be had in a parking lot was purse snatchers, door dings, and the occasional rear-end collision........

by: Christie Bielss

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