All I wanted to do was get my mail. It’s a simple thing, really. It’s as simple as most domestic chores should be. Get mail, go to the grocery store, pick up stamps, stop at the bank, and so on and on. For most people, these instances can seem like just a minute.
But a lot of times, it’s really not. Especially when people who swear that they’ll only be a minute block someone else’s way. Personally, I find this happening constantly. Now, I can’t do anything in ‘just a minute’ except for racing down an aisle in my wheelchair. Everything else I do tends to either need to be planned out exactly (which takes quite a lot of time) or spend quite a lot of time trying to find accessible routes to where I want to go.
And it’s one thing to be faced with a curb or step or a ramp that leads only to a flight of stairs but it’s a whole different thing to see an accessible route or an accessible parking spot being blocked because someone thought that they would just be a minute. To the non-disabled people who slide their cars in front of ramps and into disabled spots, you are not going to be just a minute and even for a minute it is still illegal. And it’s rude. It is ridiculously rude. There are people who need those spots, not because they’ll only be a moment, but because they can’t get anywhere any other way.
When I’m out and about and I see that there’s cars either blocking ramps or taking up handicap spots without a placard I either just ignore it (if I can) or write a little note on their car. When it comes to my home? I don’t ignore it. When people block my car or the ramp, I start knocking on doors and yelling at people to move their cars. Sometimes I try to take the time to explain to them what exactly is the problem, other times I’m merely frustrated and yell at them that they can’t do that.
And yesterday, I left to grab the mail and I see that the mail truck is parked in the hatchmarks of the disabled spot. I went up to the mail man and said, “You know that’s illegal, right?”
He ignored me.
I said again and a bit louder, “You know you can’t park there right?”
He finally turned, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’ll only be a minute.”.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s still illegal.”
“I parked there so I wouldn’t get in the way of anyone,” he said.
I swear, my jaw had literally dropped. “You know, it’s people like you who are the reason I have to park in the back parking lots all the time. People need that space so they can get their wheelchairs out.”
“Well I won’t park there tomorrow.”
Nowhere in this conversation did he start to move his truck into one of the available non-disabled spots. Unfortunately, I have always had a terrible tendency to thank people for even the most basic things and I said, “Thank you.”
And then I waited a second. The mail man just continued filling the mailboxes. And then I said, “Wait. Just now, I didn’t mean to say thank you for something you shouldn’t have done in the first place.” I know, not terribly eloquent.
The mailman only shrugged his shoulders again and said, “that’s fine.”
And I waited again. And waited. The mailman continued with his business, not caring that he was blocking both the ramp and any wheelchair user who wanted to get about. So I snapped a couple photos and waited some more. When it had been almost nearly fifteen minutes I spoke up again, “so you’re gonna move that truck or not?”
And yes, I was nasty about it.
“You want me to move the truck now?” he asked.
“Yes!” I said.
He finally got in the truck and moved it to a regular spot. And funnily enough, it only took just a minute to move his truck from one spot to another.
The most aggravating thing about the situation, the thing that bothers me the most, was the fact that he said he didn’t want to get in the way of anyone else. I don’t know about him, but I’m fairly certain I still count as a human being. I’m also fairly certain that parking in a regular spot instead of handicap spot does not inconvenience able-bodied people while blocking handicap spots does inconvenience disabled people.
In fact, while able-bodied people are off jaunting around on their far longer than just a minute escapades, us disabled people are often stopped from going about our daily life. If you block the disabled spots we can’t get our wheelchairs out. If you block the ramps or the curb cuts we can’t inside. This isn’t us being angry or whiny. This is us just wanting to live like everyone else.
But I guess apparently we don’t count as real people.
Not to this guy anyway.
But whether or not he agrees, and it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t, we’re still human. We’re still here. And I will keep driving everyone who blocks my way or others up the wall until they stop doing it.