Put Yourself In My Place, Why Don’t You…?

I’ve been working from home for the builder most of this week and drive to the shops each morning. A new primary school has opened across from the car park and every day, a procession of parents blithely park in disabled spaces and walk their children round the corner, the disabled parking saving little Rosie and Johnnie a couple of metres of walking, even though at that time in the morning, there are plenty of other spaces.

I have a blue badge. MS is a variable condition for most people, myself included. I don’t always use the badge, but when I need to, it’s a lifeline. The days when foot-drop, nerve pain or muscle spasms make walking difficult and painful, or my balance is shot to pieces, knowing I have a few more parking options makes it worth leaving the safety of my house, even for a short time.

The flip-side to this is that when I do park in a disabled space, I am met with tuts, hostility and anger from others, whether they have a blue badge or not. They closely examine me getting out my car, whisper to each other, glare at me and sigh loudly, shaking their heads.

So far, I haven’t been openly confronted, and I’m relishing the opportunity, building up the courage to go over to them and challenge their attitude and press a leaflet about MS into their hands before I stumble off.

Disabled spaces are treated with as much scorn and disregard as parent and baby spaces – how many of us have seen a car drive up to designated parent parking and a couple of teenagers jump out? Or worse, no kids at all. So rather than silently fume, I am going to take action.

The point is not that these parents only use the spaces for ten minutes, it is that they use them at all. Disabled people are generally treated as second class people at the best of times, so perhaps it is understandable that people wilfully abuse one of our few concessions without a thought.

Is this the only time they put themselves in our place?

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10 thoughts on “Put Yourself In My Place, Why Don’t You…?

  1. How infuriating that that’s happened to you! I’ve read about people with MS being glared at for using the disabled spots. I guess so many people abuse it that when someone with a sometimes “invisible” disease legitimately use a spot, people make assumptions and get all huffy and obnoxious. Please do get a stack of MS pamphlets and thrust one at anyone who gives you the evil eye. And then post about it (a picture of their face would be nice too)! Would be very therapeutic, I imagine!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      A great idea, Ms CrankyPants – name and shame! Have just been out with my mum (she has a blue badge too) and she worried that people would glare at her even though she can’t walk more than a few metres without a stick!
      I reckon I should take a clipboard, my phone to take photos and a good dose of attitude and monitor that car park by the school. Meh.

    • We went through that A LOT! Primarily, because we are a younger couple and people just don’t get the “invisible” symptoms that go along with MS.

      I’ve actually had someone say something to me while Marcus was at a Dr. appointment, I forgot my phone and ran out to get it. The *snobby evil eye stare* was followed up with “People like YOU are perfectly CAPABLE of walking from a normal parking spot.” Of course, I got super angry with them and stated, matter of factly, “Yes I CAN walk, but I’m not parked here for ME. I’m parked here because someone I love has MS. I have to go back in and assist my boyfriend OUT TO THE CAR, because HE STRUGGLES TO WALK 2 feet, let alone to a ‘regular’ parking spot. Don’t judge me when you don’t even know my situation.”

      Actually, someone sells bumper stickers that say “You can have my parking spot when you take my MS too!” that I thought about getting for our family vehicle. I totally agree, we DEFINITELY should keep MS pamphlets loaded in the center console. lol

      Seriously, people just don’t understand because there isn’t enough awareness and that’s just sad.

      • stumbling in flats says:

        Hi there,
        I love the idea of a bumper sticker! ‘Invisible’ MS is so hard to explain to other people, especially if they’re not willing to understand.
        Saying that, I’ve seen sprightlier pensioners with blue badges, who leap from their cars and dash to the shops, but who am I to judge??
        Sadly, I get the ‘snobby evil eye stare’ the few times I really need to use the badge, especially in the evenings when the nerve pain in my legs is worse or the foot drop is playing up.
        Anyway, lovely to hear from you and your blog is great!

        • Thank you. 🙂 I found your site through the MS blog badge on my page actually. I think every person with MS should have one those stickers lol. I’d rather it be a magnet though.

          • stumbling in flats says:

            Maybe a handy placard in the car would be good? We can wave it around, no words needed, lol.

  2. A confrontation is a really good way to let off steam but sadly it does not get you anywhere. What chance of getting a traffic warden to loiter with intent?

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Patrick!
      We do actually have some very fierce traffic wardens, but they seem to ignore the disabled parking! Perhaps I should butter them up with some cream cakes from Greggs, then point them in the direction of the car park. Bribery and corruption! Mind you, they might fine me for loitering with intent…

  3. Ellen says:

    This is something that, alas, I’ve had a lot of experience with. I have MS and it was a life saver when I finally got my blue placard (I’m in the U.S.). The irony is these tut-tutting self-righteous people have no idea how hard it was to finally realize I *had* to have one, and to ask my doctor to send in the form. Getting glared and snarled at used to really unnerve me. But now I mostly just get angry. I too have had the idea to hand out M.S. leaflets, although I haven’t yet gotten around to getting some (but I love the idea!). I’ve also been fantasizing that when I get challenged again, I might offer the offending self-righteous idiot my doctor’s phone number–“Obviously, my Multiple Sclerosis concerns you so much, perhaps you’d like to discuss it with my MD? You seem to know more about it than he does.” Alas, I now have to use a cane all the time when I go out, and this has decreased the ugly looks. But it’s very annoying. I’m sick of people like us having to prove our disability and look the part just to please others.

    As for the inconsiderate jerks parking in the spaces… UGH! Some guy blocked the blue space in front of where I needed to go recently, causing me to have to hobble an extra block when I was having a bad day. As I rounded the corner, the inconsiderate lout was just returning to his truck. I told him off! I explained that his lack of consideration was going to result in more debility throughout my day, and that he genuinely caused harm by his actions. And next time I’d be sure to call the police and report him. This big guy was looking rather sorry by the time he got back in his car. It was the first time I’d ever stood up to someone over this issue, and, I must say, it felt empowering. I like the idea of leaving those signs on those cars. I hope you do it! For one thing, it’s vile those parents are setting that kind of example for their children. (Sorry for the long comment–this really hits a nerve!)

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Well done you for yelling at that guy! Very brave. Such an interesting point you made too, about those parents setting a bad example for their children, I hadn’t thought of it like that before but you’re so right. They are normalising it for their kids that it’s ok to park in disabled and that can’t be right.
      I have just been out shopping again and had the same problem. A sprightly pensioner jumped out her car, glared at me, huffed and puffed and walked off. So, so tempted to yank her back and give her a piece of my mind! (well, what’s left of it anyway….).
      Before I had MS, I never even thought about parking in disabled so it’s astonishing to see how many people do. Am turning into a right ranty person! I would love to get my hands on some of those stickers so I could slap them on people’s windscreens.
      Rant over…

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