My friend Sandy and I witnessed a shocking moment outside our YMCA this week. We were talking outside the building after our yoga class, when we realized there was a verbal altercation taking place next to us, near the handicapped parking spots.
It was a tough parking day, since the back lot was being re-paved. Cars were parked everywhere–in the spots and along the curb, summer camp kids all around, grandparents escorting their young companions inside.
A heavyset woman in a van was yelling at a 60ish year old man, parked in a handicapped spot. We could see him fumbling, then holding up a blue handicapped placard for her to see before he hung it on his mirror.
“See,” he said,” here is my handicapped sticker.” Mid-conversation, we were unaware of the previous argument.
“YOU don’t have a wheelchair in your car. I do,” she ranted. “You don’t need that handicapped sticker!”
“I do. I have a permanent disability,” he replied as he exited the car.
“You don’t need that. You look fine,” she yelled as she parked illegally next to the curb.
“I don’t need to discuss with you what my health issues are. I do need this sticker,” he replied.
“FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!” she screamed as him, slamming her car door.
What? Those stunning words yelled at the YM Christian A? Surrounded by people, of all ages, we could no longer remain quiet.
“Hey, hey,” Sandy and I both quietly called, hoping to calm the situation. Oh no, that just set her off, as she walked to the back of the van, removed and unfolded the wheelchair and climbed in it. We were embarrassed for her daughter who meekly climbed out of the back seat, around ten.
“He doesn’t need the sticker! He looks perfectly healthy. It was in his back seat until I came up,” she yelled at us.
“This language is NOT necessary here,” I replied angrily. “The man in the black car has every right to park here with this sticker. My dad has a handicapped sticker, and he doesn’t have a wheelchair. He works out here. I certainly wouldn’t want you yelling at MY dad because he is parked here. You don’t have to have a wheelchair to have a handicapped sticker.”
I though this might make her realize that she was out of line, but she began moving towards us in the chair, bellowing all the while.
“Thank you, ladies,” the man by the black car said to us. “Thank you so much. I really didn’t want to tell her my whole medical history.”
“There isn’t any need. You have the right placard,” Sandy replied.
We all felt it best to disperse before she reached us. She was seething, we were still amazed and angry, and no good would come of further words.
While I walked to my car, unable to believe this whole experience, I was thankful that I stood up for my dad, my mother-in-law, and all the others who have handicapped stickers for don’t have a wheelchair or crutches. And I felt sorry for the daughter, who might be cringing at the yelling or used to such anger, and I was still furious and shocked at the woman in the van, who herself was able to walk to the back of the van–yet she had a handicapped sticker. What had made her so angry? Was it a bad morning, or was she always this angry at the world?
She could have my Zen feeling. She clearly needed it more than me. C