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?