Monday, February 23, 2009

Failing to Type the Very Bad Words I Am Thinking...

All 5 disability parking spots at the middle school were taken by parents parked illegally tonight. One was our coach. That meant I had to park behind them in the fire lane, blocking them in and risking getting towed. I can't parallel park next to the curb because of the lift.

Yes they know me. A few were new parents who must have thought, "no one disabled would come to volleyball practice." And I did say something about it at the parent meeting and explained why it was needed, though I should not have needed to explain.

Maybe I should have called the police but I didn't since I wanted to get my daughter in and then listen to the meeting. I did call the volleyball association when I got home--the owner has a child who's disabled and will send out an email to all parents (there were two teams in another gym) about the parking, access aisles, and curb cuts, noting that the police will be called next time. She's particularly unhappy about the coach doing that, as am I.

I'm just angry and I feel unwelcome. I feel shaky and teary. The other parents have never made me feel welcome except the ones I already know. They've gawked at me like I'm a freak. Only a few have said hello and tried to engage me in conversation, and one of those isn't participating this semester, or at least I didn't see her.

My friend is driving my daughter home in a bit.

What are people teaching their daughters?

I am angry and hurt.

They might as well put up a sign saying, "You're not welcome here."


One Sick Mother said...

that just sucks. You put in the extra effort to get involved with your kid's activities only to find yourself quite literally blocked out. You have every right to be angry and disgusted. Behaviour like that is just plain wrong.

D Phoenix said...

I could type a few choice words for you. F*ckers. 5 spots taken. FIVE. As*holes. The coach??? That's horrible.

I'm glad you contacted the volleyball association right away and got a good response there. Can they talk to the coach as well? Can they make a point of talking about accessibility at their next meetings? I'm sure you didn't feel like speaking up at the meeting,not feeling very welcome and all, but good for you.

I'm sure if one asked them they would say that you are most welcome and wanted at these school events. They aren't thinking and in their carelessness they are pushing you out.

I'm not surprised that you are feeling teary. It's such an effort to get out and then you are thwarted. And it's not like it's an isolated event. Don't forget your ally at the association and don't forget that it's not about you... it's about all of us who have disabilities. You're not alone.

FridaWrites said...

Thank you guys, very much.

It just makes me particularly upset when someone who's around me regularly still doesn't get it. At the Girl Scout meetings, my husband is the only one who doesn't park in disability parking (he could get away with it but wouldn't, on principle).

The volleyball association sent out an email to all parents on all teams, so it should benefit some others too and provide a reminder that just because spaces are empty when you pull up doesn't mean someone won't need it sometime.

People's attitudes just f*ing suck. They're teaching their kids the wrong thing too.

I really want to write some opinion pieces on disability in a few months and try to get them placed, though I know that's difficult.

God, people get twitchy from the guilt. Good. They're lucky I didn't call the police and get them ticketed. I don't want to be ignored when I really need it by being a "frequent flyer," so I haven't ever called.

yanub said...

The problem with the people who are so willing to deny access on the basis of disability is their complete refusal to accept responsibility for their actions and their insistence that the real problem is the person with a disability who has dared to inconvenience them.

I hope your complaints finally begin to change things. If not, you have to stop being nice and start calling the police. Does your community deputize parking enforcers? If so, then maybe you can be the one to ticket the vehicles yourself, or call for a tow truck.

FridaWrites said...

People do hate those "unused" parking spots, failing to realize that the next person can't get one. I do think that's the reaction, that most of them see me as the problem.

I've never understood people's refusal to admit mistakes and make apologies.

An adjoining county has parking deputies but I don't know if ours does--that's a good idea to check and see if they aleady have them so people can just let them know where some problem areas are and they can target them. Generally larger shopping centers are targeted. I think people are supposed to go through a volunteer training academy first and that's more physically intensive than I can do. But I can ask some others who've done it.

FridaWrites said...

Ha, one of the larger cities near us (where the schools and stores are) does! Yeesss....thanks, yanub!

william Peace said...

Frida, As a parent with a disability, what you experienced is the norm. Access at schools, gyms, and recreation facilities is often problematic. Just because a blue wheelchair symbol is posted does not mean a building is accessible or has adequate parking. This is hard enough but the attitudes only make it worse. Again, this is the norm. Sadly, I have always been consistently hesitant to complain as I fear those in charge will stigmatize or isolate my son.

FridaWrites said...

Yes, William, exactly. I doubt my daughter would make any friends if I had people ticketed.

If I let the parking volunteers know where some of the problems are, specifically schools and when, they can have a field day. People don't do this where there's more security--they do it when they think they can't get caught.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks for writing this and for following up with the positive outcome. You are making a difference. But it sucks that it hurts so bad. If people only knew the cost, financial and physical it took for most people with disabilities to get out the door much less to support their daughter, they would make sure those spots were ALWAYS available, but they don't. There isn't enough education, enough teen books, enough........

It sucks, and I'm really sorry you had to pay, as a person who was AB, and while I didn't park in blue badge spots, I didn't understand what the big issue was, I apologize, for my and all of our collective ignorance. You are part of the collective, you are a valuable member of society. It is just sometimes we are slow and dumb in learning that; please forgive us.

FridaWrites said...

I'm never resentful toward people who don't park in the space (as you didn't), even if people don't understand why. Someone who isn't parking there isn't leaving me out.

What you write and what some other people who now have disabilities write shows me that we indeed need to do more educating about why they're needed; while there are still some people who wouldn't understand, I think a lot of people would if you showed them how a wheelchair lift works or how a manual wheelchair user or someone with a walker needs more space, rides at bumper height, etc. My own sister said she didn't understand how these things worked and required more space. The same could be done for people who walk.

Yes, I can, will, do forgive people, but I'll still get mad when the next person does it and sometimes try to educate (many people who'd park there, I'm just not going to argue with because some of them are very deliberate and could be violent).

Lisa Moon said...

Sorry for the late comment; I'm rather behind in my reading. Sincerest apologies. :)

Wow, I'm so sad and upset for you reading this! Rules and regulations aside, what got me in the gut, so to speak, was the fact that, as an involved parent, you're made to feel unwelcome and worse, physically barred access. Yes, through ignorance, but racism is often the same, for example; we fear what we don't understand and/or we don't care because it 'doesn't affect us'.

CONGRATS for taking swift and, it sounds like, effective action. And I agree with Yanub that if it's not working, perhaps it is time to start calling the police, or whatever parking enforcement is available. It's certainly not "nice" to park in a clearly marked spot for people with disabilities. If you park in a fire lane, you WILL be ticketed and towed - even if it wasn't being used!

*Hugs* to a mum who cares enough to be involved, even when it's not convenient or easy. Keep it up!