Park Where You Belong

In Columns, Features, Moments with Michelle by Michelle Henson

Have you ever really taken the time to notice the stares as you get out of your car? Lately, I have noticed after parking in a handicap parking place, people scrutinize to make sure you have a disability. I find it to be kind of funny because being disabled, I find myself doing the same thing. Unfortunately, we all know people who are not handicapped weasel themselves into the marked sections.

Recently, I went to an INDY car race at my local track and was quite shocked at the events that happened. A group of friends and I had ridge passes which means that we were allowed on the first turn of the track with a camper and a lot. We were free to walk around and watch the race instead of being stuck in the stands. This was much easier on me because I did not have to climb any stairs or deal with a crowd. I decided to go over and walk around to the vendors to check out the free promotions being offered. Since we had my handicap parking sticker we drove over to the designated parking spots.

Once we reached the gates, a police officer approached us and asked to see the sticker, he asked who it belonged to, and requested identification. It just so happened that I did not bring my driver’s license with me that day because I did not drive to the event. The police officer held down my sticker and asked me my birth date, which I told him without hesitation. The officer was skeptical due to the fact that there was a little box at the top of the sticker that was supposed to be clipped out for a female. My sticker had arrived to me via mail and that box had not been clipped out when I received it. I felt uncomfortable because I had never been asked for ID to use my sticker; therefore, I was not quite sure what to do.

I realize they were checking for people who were falsely using another person’s handicap sticker. But it is really an uncomfortable position to be placed in when you are truly disabled. I was thinking I really had no way of proving my disability without physically putting myself in an awkward position by walking for the officer or revealing my scars from previous operations. I also wear AFO braces on both legs but did not happen to be wearing them that day because the weather was hot and sticky. The officer let us park there but told me that he could have imposed a fine and taken away my sticker. Had that happened, I would have had to go in front of a board of review and state my case. This made me angry because if non-disabled people would not park were they don’t belong, then honest disabled people would not have to deal with this nonsense.

I want disabled people to be aware of the fact that you need to carry identification with you at all times. Hopefully, no one else will be faced with the awkward position that I was faced with.