I applied for a handicap sticker for my vehicle.
I had a drop attack and subsequent symptoms during my public access test with Phyllis and we had to park far away from the doors at Roseville mall. I decided to go for it. I spoke with my physician, and she was happy to fill out the application for me, which is a requirement to have done when applying for this placard.
Matt and I needed some things last night so I drove to the local Target and put my temporary placard on my dashboard as instructed by DMV. I looked at Matt and said, “I am going to get shit for this.”
The reason I said this is because there are countless posts made in my support groups online showing nasty notes left on vehicles by cowards accusing those in the vehicle of being lazy or not disabled.
We entered the store and things were fine. We worked our way around to the food area and I hear someone shout, “lazy people who like to park in handicapped spots without a disability” then as I am walking past two women, another one say, “oh, this one.”
Every fiber of me wanted them to just stop talking. I generally dislike people – I don’t trust them. Any one could have a gun. Any one could beat the shit out of me. I just watched the video of two women beating each other in a Walmart. It’s just not worth it to engage strangers.
We walked past and the older women asked to speak with me. She was shaking her list in my face and Matt was beat red. I knew this wasn’t going to end well. Matt was trying to tell this old woman the temporary placard was displayed as it should be. The old women was telling me “shame on you for parking there without a sticker” and Matt was getting louder, telling her I had a sticker. The younger one is getting closer to me, with her false fingernails waving in the air. Yelling at Matt, “are you really going to yell at her…?” Heads are starting to turn, people are starting to stop and stare and suddenly this is actually happening. I am being accosted by two women in Target, Matt is seeing red, and I am standing there… numb… Matt finally says, “she has a temp placard which is displayed on her dashboard, THANK YOU.” and walks away…
The old woman then decides to ‘educate’ me and says she has gotten a ticket for parking in handicap spot. She said I will get a ticket and I said it was ok, I have the placard, I would fight a ticket. The old woman then said Matt is an bad person… suddenly my legs were alive and I began to follow after Matt as she continued to shout how he was a bad man. I turned and said, “he is a wonderful man who has supported me through three surgeries related to my disability.”
Matt told an employee we were being harassed and the employee laughed and Matt said, “NO REALLY”… I walked by the checkout lanes and started to hyperventilate. Something broke inside… I couldn’t stop the tears. People were continuing to stare… I wanted to run. We checked out and people were staring at me… I was making a scene. I kept saying, “how can people be that evil?”
We exited the store and my world was swimming.
The cherry on top is Matt and the younger woman acknowledged they went to high school together.
I called and spoke to a manager this morning at Target. She apologized for the employee not acting on it. I appreciate it and thank you, Mary, for being understanding and ensuring your employees are educated on what to do when these situations happen.
Ironically, we walked by a man with arm braces. All I could think was, he would never be accused of being lazy. He would never be referred to as, “the one“. He looks authentic… he looks disabled. I do not. I look normal. I don’t look sick.
What these women didn’t know, is, like someone who has a seizure disorder, at any moment, I could have an attack which would render me useless.
Matt and I decided the best strategy for next time this happens, because it will happen again, is to walk away. No matter how difficult it may be.
This is how I kicked off Invisible Illness Awareness week… having my authenticity questioned. Being spoken to as a thing, not a person. There was no compassion between the two of them.
The moral of this story is mind your fucking business. You don’t know what others may be going through. I have a good friend who had seizures for a while – she didn’t and doesn’t look sick, but at any moment she could have another seizure.
I have a friend who has chronic back pain and it affects her mobility. She uses a handicap placard and gets the leers from people….
Mind your own business. Please. It’s not your job to police me. Leave that up to police officers to ticket me if I don’t have my placard displayed.