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Here’s something I’ve gotten a lot of recently: disbelief. I’ve had conversations just like this twice in the last week:
Person: I saw you have a handicapped parking tag. What’s going on?
Me: Oh, I’m disabled.
Person: Bad back or what?
Me: Ha, kind of. Bad everything.
Person: Oh yeah?
Me: Yeah. Bad back, legs…everything.
Person: Ha, really?
Me: Yes. I have a condition where my joints and muscles don’t connect the way most people’s do, so it’s hard for me to walk or stand for very long.
Person: Oh. Wait…you’re not joking?
Me: No, not at all. I’m disabled.
Person: Oh. I was kidding. But…
Me: I’m actually disabled.
First of all, I’m surprised that this has happened twice in the last week - once with a parent during an outing with the girl scout troop I co-lead, once with someone who works at my office. When I put up my handicapped parking tag in my car, people will comment on how “convenient” it is that I have it with me. The tag doesn’t make my life “convenient”, it makes it possible.
When I first got the parking tag, I knew I would get glares and stares. I was afraid that strangers would assume that I stole or “borrowed” it from an elderly relative or something. I like to be an optimist, but I’m also a realist and I know that some people see something they think isn’t right without considering all the possibilities. I was prepared for attitude from strangers.
However, I figured that the people with whom I interact - friends, people I work with, etc - would give me the benefit of the doubt. I figured that they wouldn’t cast me as a liar and a phony. Why would I joke about being disabled? Do they think I just have really poor taste? Why can’t people take what I say at face value - ESPECIALLY when that something is about my own health?
Any advice on how to react to situations like this in the future would be appreciated. Right now, I’ve been holding steady, not laughing, and just repeating “I am disabled” until people get that it’s not a joke.
I wish I could step in and say I’ve got a sure fire way to be polite and yet still tell people to fuck off I’m disabled, I wish I could say I’ve never seen this complaint, or heard these concerns, I wish I could say if you do XYZ it will never happen again…..
I have a tag, but I only use it when I need my cane, which is only about 30% of my life. However, I live in Florida, and unless I’m parking somewhere there are literally NO OLD PEOPLE, I do not often get the chance to use accessible parking.
When I do use the parking, I’m often accosted, and I do not deal well with confrontation. I usually do my best to ignore the person, or I will turn around and yell inappropriate things right back.
So far the best received response has been “My doctor and the DMV agree I’m disabled enough for this space, please take it up with them”
My hives and dermatitis really aren’t so bad today. I just decided not to wear make up to work so that I might just experience my bare skin and let it breathe. This is how it is most of the time. This is me.