Benefits or Stepping Stones

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez


I find it absolutely amazing how many people these days want to be disabled. Actually, they want the “benefits” of being disabled. They think there are benefits. I see them as necessities.

A perfect example is the controversy over the parking for disabled people. Everyone has complained that even healthy people over the age of 65 somehow manage to get a permit to park in the spots reserved for the disabled.

I never knew that getting older was a disability. If so, then everyone is disabled because sooner or later they get old. So why don’t we simply make every single parking spot a disabled parking spot? Who’s with me on this one?

Disabled parking isn’t a benefit! It’s a necessity.

I always thought that the parking spots for disabled people were not only closer to the main entrance but also wider. If my logic is correct, the width is there to allow room for the wheelchair user or the lift from a van.

It is closer to the main entrance for two reasons. The first reason is to shorten the pushing or walking distance between the car and the entrance. Seems logical enough to me, who’s with me on that too?

The second reason is for safety. A person sitting in a wheelchair can not be seen as well as someone walking in a parking area. Therefore, it is safer to place the parking spot for a wheelchair bound person closer to the main entrance.

Probably benefits those who don’t really need it.

Yet, I have heard every imaginable excuse to use a disabled parking spot. Let’s see, hmmm oh yeah here is a good one: “I sprained my ankle” Well that sounds legitimate to me. What would that person have done before the disabled parking decal? They might actually have had to deal with some discomfort but not in today’s society. Discomfort is taboo.

I like the one where the culprit blames the doctor. “The doctor gave it to me because I have so much pain.” Ok, I can fall for that one. But how does that explain taking up a spot that has a huge sign stating “Van Accessible Parking” when the culprit is not driving a van or using a wheelchair or scooter?

To put it nicely, people need to understand that we need the extra space. We need this spot. This isn’t one of those “oh! nice benefit!”

We are not asking for the entire parking lot. We simply ask that we be given the opportunity to get out of the vehicle. It’s not that difficult to understand! Geez!

Ok let’s drive away from this topic and situate ourselves on the second matter that seems to appeal so much to able bodied people. The throne! That’s right the bathroom.

Oh yeah! Another benefit for being disabled?

It seems that if there are 20 bathroom stalls available, no let’s make it 100 bathroom stalls! People will still gravitate towards the only stall for a disabled person. Go figure!

I wish I had a penny! That’s right a penny for every single time I have had to wait anywhere between 5-15 minutes for able bodied people to finish reading the newspaper or applying their make up or taking all the little kids to the bathroom or because they wanted to take their sweet time. I would probably be a billionaire with a ‘B’!

It’s gotten to the point where I actually knock on the door and ask the person in the stall if she is disabled and if not she needs to get out. When the fool opens the door and sees me, her face is beet red. That suits me just fine! Perhaps the next time she won’t do it again.

I have no qualms with the people who use the disabled stall when there is a huge line of people waiting to seek bladder relief because the stall is there but when there are several available stalls it makes me ill.

Parking spots, bathrooms, what else is there that the able bodied people consider the benefits of being disabled? Oh yeah! Those short cuts to long lines at amusement parks are a benefit too. But, you will be sad to know that those lines no longer exist. So now, when a child with MD who can barely walk wants to enjoy a 3 minute ride, he must stand on line or sit in his chair for more than an hour most of the time in the hot weather with strangers pushing each other to get closer or gawking at him.

It seems that the AB world wanted a piece of this magnificent benefit and propped their healthy family member in a rented wheelchair to receive the short cut benefit. Isn’t that marvelous? How lovely!

Amazingly enough, more and more people want to be like us! Wow! I feel so flattered! Do you think they want to be like us when we have trouble getting down a flight of steps in an emergency? Or perhaps they want to be like us when our medical problems kick in extra hard?

There are no “benefits” to being disabled.

There were disabled people long before I came along who fought to give us these so called benefits that are really stepping stones or necessities for us to have a better chance of experiencing life outside of our bedrooms.

Yet, the able bodied people want these accommodations to suit them but when the disabled community asks for more stepping stones to succeed our fake benefit members vanish. So now it is up to us in this generation to continue to fight for more equality and maintain the “benefits” our predecessors left with us.

Are we being loud enough to get others to understand and respect that what people think are “benefits” are really our necessities?

What do you think?

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