Friday, April 27, 2012


I wish I was the kind of guy who could just sit back and enjoy his sweet parking space. I mean, look at it. Ain’t she a beaut? She’s extra wide, clearly demarcated with bright yellow lines. The diagonal stripes warn the noncrippled to trespass at their own risk. It’s even got a sign with my picture on it. That chalk-white stick cripple in the stick wheelchair looks just like me, except he’s much skinnier and has a smaller head.

I’m a privileged character. I’ve got more parking privileges than his Royal Douchebag Highness Trump. He has reserved parking spaces all over the world. But in this McDonald’s parking lot, I don’t see any signs with his picture. He has to scramble for one of the every-man-for himself spaces like every other workaday schlump.

I count my blessings. I know my parking space is a monument to tolerance. I am crippled yet I am tolerated.

But whenever I park, I feel guilty. My sense of injustice is stirred. I can’t help but think of my misunderstood brethren on other points of the cripple spectrum who are not as tolerated as I am. Take, for example, those with irritable bowel syndrome. When it comes to the need to be parked as close as possible to the entrance of a building, they can make a far more compelling case than I. But will this alone qualify them to receive a license plate with the stick cripple on it that grants them that status? Not necessarily.

But even if it does, they will still be the object of resentment. When Joe or Josephine Pedestrian witnesses the driver of a car with special cripple plates park in a special cripple parking space and then sprint from the car into the Mc Donald’s, that’s when the backlash begins. If that person’s crippled, then who isn’t? Where does it end? Give those cripples an inch and they’ll take a mile!

It’s like how my mother felt about signs in Spanish in public places like city buses. There are tons of Polish people in Chicago, she said. Why no signs for them? Why not the Lithuanians? If you put a sign up for everyone who speaks a different language in Chicago, the bus will be 13 miles long!

So it goes with the Pedestrians. Even if you explain to them the finer points of IBS and the urgent need for reserved parking it potentially poses, that’s not likely to help. What’s next, they’ll think? Will we have to have special parking spaces for those people too? And oh God, what will the picture on those signs look like? What other kinds of cripples will then demand parking supremacy? Pretty soon the parking lot will be 13 miles long!

So the mundane act of parking throws me into moral turmoil. For as much as I feel deep solidarity with cripples who don’t wear their crippledness on their sleeve like me and thus still have to prove themselves worthy of toleration, I fear speaking up for them. I don’t want to fuel the backlash. I don’t want the exasperated masses to mourn the demise of the well-defined days when everyone knew exactly whom the cripples were. Cripples looked like the guy on the sign. But today, anybody who’s missing a big toe can claim they’ve got a right to prime parking, they might think. So maybe we’ll just take the privileged parking away from them all! That’ll teach them!

I wouldn’t want that to happen. So I don’t challenge the status quo. We wheelchair cripples were the first to penetrate the parking frontier. We stuck our flag in it, the blue flag with the white stick cripple. We claimed it for ourselves. If we open it up to all the less obvious cripples, we run the risk of that being too much of a mindfuck and we’ll all end up with nothing. Only so much can be tolerated.


  1. Hey, SAC, how come u don't have a Facebook page? FB needs your insights.

  2. Roger, you have highlighted another area of inequality to which we all can relate.
    You like Hawking, demonstrate that crippledom does not always extend to the braincells

  3. Dear Roger: I love your sense of humor. Last Mother's Day, my son didn't call me, so a few days later I called him because I knew he was not feeling well. He has gout, and possible prostate problems, and is having trouble walking. He's a pretty (all about me) guy, and has to be right. I suggested that he get one of those placards to put in his vehicle whenever he has to go to the Dr. Man--talk about bi-polar--he hit the ceiling, ranted and raved about those SOB's who take advantage, blah-blah-blah. To Mike everything is black and white, absolutely no grey areas. I agreed with him to a point. He doesn't seem to differentiate between the SAC's and the SOB's. He tends to believe that anyone who has a placard is a "bleeping" idiot. I'm 84 and he is 69 (yeah I was 15), but he is older than I am. :) In a very soft voice I said, "Honey calm down." I thought he was going to have apoplexy. He shouted,"I DON'T HAVE TO CALM DOWN, YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO." Long story short--he hung up on me. I have been afraid to call him because of my own health issues (I have a placard),and now it will soon be Mother's Day again. I want to thank you for this article. I am going to send it to him so that perhaps he will realize, that not all SAC's are SOB's. But, most SOB's can be SAC' the mind. God Bless!! Gramma Dawn

  4. Wait...I've have IBS for 30 years! I can get special parking for that? Someone owes me 30 years of special treatment, apparently! WTF!

  5. This is very funny stuff. If your book was available for e-readers, I'd buy it. I live abroad, so would need to ransom a kid to pay postage.

  6. I think a big part of the problem is that everyone kind of stopped caring about ableism after the ADA got passed. Not that they cared a lot about it before hand, even the rehab act of '73 was set to be gutted by Tricky Dick.

    I think we need to have a new conversation in society about what disability and ableism are. It seems like people don't support matters of social justice such as the ADA out of an earnest desire for a more just society, but rather as an effort to get it all over with so they can get back to life as usual. However, what is usual is an attitude which has led to the need for legislation like the ADA and Rehab Act. People may be willing to change the law, but not their minds.

  7. Aren't we all disabled in some way? It's part of being human and our humanity is defined by how we treat those among the population who are more vulnerable than the average. What do I care if someone has gout or IBS and needs to park closer to an entrance? Perhaps it's just regular old jealousy?

  8. Guilty! I'm guilty of being part of the crippled elite. Look at me and you can tell why I've got that placard. What annoys me more than pretty much anything else is parking out in the lot, in the handicapped space and then having to weave through all the idling asshats parked in front of the store, waiting for their too precious to walk very far cargo. I suppose they don't realize what a treasure being able to walk truly is.

    Oh, and don't go to Facebook. It's evil!

  9. I had a friend of many years who had disabled parking privileges because of a head injury. People who saw her getting out of her car with no visible means of defect resented it like they thought she was faking it or something. I think she mentioned some nasty person even confronted her about it.

    One thing she said was that people shouldn't be too quick to pick on someone merely because they don't "look" disabled; you might just find out personally what it's like.