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Posted: 06.13.2002
I'm handi-capable
Maybe it's just because I've been really sick today, and when I'm like this I get blindsided that this is my life after a string of really good days. Or maybe I've just been picked on one time too many. But I read a comment over at Annessa's blog (not by her) that made my blood boil. You cannot possibly imagine what I go through each and every time a local or national news program does an expose on handicapped parking and the "healthy" people using the spaces. Comments like these turn into actions out in the real world:

"My dark side? Well, I'd definitely run into/over someone non-handicapped if they blatently parked in a handicapped spot after they saw me coming. No, I'm not hostile."

I look healthy. You've seen my photos. I'm under 30. I'm not in a wheelchair. I don't use a cane. I don't walk with a visible limp. But like it or not (and believe me, I don't) -- I am handicapped. I do have a handicapped parking tag (even though I have been unable to drive myself since 1996). And on the days I need it, I do use it. What may seem just a few more spaces down and not much extra walking to you can literally make the difference on whether or not I can continue my shopping or have to leave early without my intended purchases.

In the state of Florida your drivers license number is printed on your handicapped tag -- and believe me, mine matches. I know this because we have had the cops called on us after entering pharmacies and stores to do our shopping, only to exit and find a police car blocking our route until we were investigated. The only times we are free from harassment when using the tag is when my grandmother comes down to visit and gets out of the car with us. Ironically, her visits have been to do things like help us move or help Todd with the cooking and cleaning when I have been too sick to do so myself. She can run circles around me -- but she "looks" the part. So I guess that must mean she is entitled and I am not.

The following is a letter I sent to the local news editor back in 1998 after being verbally attacked and physically shaken while trying to enter a store. When I tried to go the non-confrontation route and walk by the person (Todd walks faster than I do and had already entered the store without me unaware of what was occurring behind him), I was grabbed, flung around, and made to account for my use of the space. And that's not the only time. As mentioned in Annessa's blog -- I have been cursed at, flipped off, chased across a parking lot (and believe me I don't walk fast), had nasty notes left on my car, and stopped more times than I care to count.

I carry a Medic Alert card on me at all times. I wear a Medic Alert bracelet around my ankle. I am prepared when I'm stopped. But why should I have to be? Who made you judge, jury and executioner? Think about that the next time you're tempted to open up your big mouth and/or run me over. And please read this essay.

July 2, 1998

Hey you! Yes you, the one giving me the dirty look as I step out of my car and grabbing me as I try to go by to "justify myself"... Or you, gesturing towards me, pointing me out to your friends... And you over there, yelling obscenities at me, and telling me that I don't look handicapped... Even you, the one that put the nasty 'anonymous' note on my windshield while I was inside doing my shopping... Didn't your mothers ever teach you that it's rude to stare, that it's not polite to point fingers, or that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all?

How do you know that I don't have a heart condition? I do. I'm only 25 years old, but I do. Does every handicapped person need to have a wheelchair or cane? Do you have to be over the age of 65 to park in a handicapped spot in the state of Florida, or anywhere for that matter? Maybe not legally, but judging by the general public's reaction, certainly logically... WHY is that?

When did our society become so close-minded and petty, that we need to have 60 Minutes and 20/20 reporters chasing down healthy-looking individuals who park in handicapped spots? Even though a few healthy people might abuse the system now and again, do we then assume that every healthy-looking individual should not be entitled to disabled parking? Did any of you ever stop to think that some disabilities CAN'T be seen? Do you know there's a box for the doctor to check when they fill out the handicapped parking certification form that states, "Patient cannot walk more than 200 yards without rest"? This includes, but is not limited to, a host of lesser-known illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Neurally Mediated Hypotension, Fibromyalgia, Gulf War Syndrome, Valley Fever, and Lupus -- just to name a few. HIV, cancer, and heart disease arenít always 'visible', but they are very real and serious illnesses too.

You do not have to be missing a limb or be caught popping a glycerin tablet to legally, morally, or ethically park in a handicapped space. You do not have to be in a wheelchair like the universal handicapped symbol depicts. You do not need to be bald or have gray hair. You don't even have to be a passenger in the car -- you can be a disabled DRIVER, and still use a handicapped parking tag.

I've fought long and hard with the national government to be termed legally disabled. I don't have the strength or energy to fight with you too. It's not good for my health anyway. So leave me alone, and go pick on someone else. If you really think I'm breaking the law, then call the police and let them sort it out. It's not like I haven't been through that one before. Just stay out of it and mind your own business. I simply want to get my shopping done so I can go back to bed.

Robyn L. Pollman

For more information, please visit invisibledisabilities.com. This quote rings quite true:

"Most people with illnesses and injuries would jump at the chance to trade their plates and placards in for the ability to walk from the farthest parking space! To those who are healthy and able to walk, they see these spaces as a bonus or luxury! But, for those who are sick or in pain, it is just a reminder of what they have lost. After all, these spaces do not make life easy, they make it possible."

Hey boy take a look at me...let me dirty up your mind...

On the one hand Robyn, I totally agree with you. My mom has severe asthma, to the point that she qualified for the handicapped thing for her car too. We live in Nebraska. When it gets too cold or too humid, she literally can't breathe. The few extra steps between a handicapped and a non-handicapped spot could be life and death for her...literally. But she had a guy follow her through the entire store one day, making really loud, rude comments everywhere she went about her "looking healthy". She was so freaked out, she hasn't used her handicapped sign since then. So...I definitely agree with your point there.

On the other hand, if people weren't so rabid about watching who parks in those spots, you'd probably have a lot more people who would park in them that weren't handicapped, and then you, potentially, wouldn't be able to find one when you go shopping.

Just another way of looking at it.

¤ ¤ credit: Tracy | 06.13.02 at 01:56 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

But that is not for you to sort out. That is for the store owners, the parking lot security, or local law enforcement to handle. I do not believe in vigilante justice, no matter how good the intentions. And I'd rather have to fight for the spaces than fear my own personal safety and endure threats of being run down. The treatment I've encountered is hardly "protection" or "for my own good".

By the way, this topic is also addressed in the article I linked.

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.13.02 at 02:01 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I do know how you feel Robyn. Well, ok, I don't know how you feel on a day-to-day basis, but I do know what's like to be looked at as a seemingly healthy person pulling into the spot. I had to park in the handicapped spots after my surgery on my ankle. I felt so self-conscience, I felt like I should exaggerate my limp, that I should pull up my pants leg to show people the brace. And I've seen their faces change when I'd bounce out of the car to make sure my father's cancer-ridden body didn't fall as he tried to get out by himself. Or as I helped my 80 year-old grandfather.

As a teen, I used to get upset with people that didn't *look* handicapped, that didn't look as though they should be able to park there. Then one day I complained to my dad, and he said, "Annessa, you have no idea why they are parking there. Not everything that's wrong is visible."

It's my earnest hope people are kind enough to leave those spots for the people that need them, and that if someone parks there, we as humans learn to know they have a valid reason. Yes, there are fools who use it as an 'express space' but I hope those who do will read your wonderful essay, and stop.

My respect for you grows and grows.

¤ ¤ credit: annessa | 06.13.02 at 02:09 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I commend your courage Robyn.People who do these things cause more pain than the boobs who park wrongly.I'm sad to hear of these bad things that happen to you.I agree with you wholeheatedly and can only wish for you a better day tomorrow and every day.You've got GRIT !!! 8o)

¤ ¤ credit: JoeW | 06.13.02 at 02:12 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

All I know is that nothing pisses me off more than some idiot parking in the handicap spot "'cause I'm only going to be a minute." This is usually some moron with more money than sense, and they've also gone the extra step of parking their Porsche diagonally, thus taking up 2 spots.

My attitude is that if you have the little placard, it's none of my business. If you don't, watch out!

¤ ¤ credit: adam | 06.13.02 at 02:18 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I wish more people were like you, Adam (in taking the time to notice the placard)! As you can see here, even our old apartment complex created a space for me. But again, it's still better to let the proper authorities sort it out. People don't pull aside and verbally abuse other traffic violators they way they do those they perceive to be handicapped parking offenders. Take down a tag number and the vehicle's description. If possible, get a store manager's attention. But don't physically and/or verbally assault someone that very well may be entitled to park there just because you don't think they are. Please! That's all I'm asking...each of you...

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.13.02 at 02:28 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

obviously i'm in the minority here, but i totally believe in the power of karma. all the jackasses who park illegially in handicapped spaces will get theirs - and probably sooner than later.

anyways, Robyn, i had no idea about all your health problems, and i so feel for you - i can't even imagine what it must be like. and fuck the govt and all their paper-BS. i'm sorry they made you feel like shit. gah! :(

¤ ¤ credit: zalary | 06.13.02 at 04:11 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Robyn, I love you for your strength. The fact that you would write a letter to the editor about all this after being so rudely assaulted - its great that you are helping to make people aware of what's going on. It SUCKS that you should have to, though.

The way I feel this morning after going to the mall last night, I sure wish I had a handicap sticker. My legs are numb from pain, and maybe that extra walk all the way down the row of cars from two different parking instances was what put me over the edge. But if/when I get a handicap sticker, I don't look forward to any of these issues. Why is it that people who don't understand think they can be so dang judgemental.

Sigh. Hugs to you, sweety.

¤ ¤ credit: kristine | 06.13.02 at 06:43 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I'm glad you put this out here for people to read. It's something I had not considered. Not that I would have assaulted or come up and harassed someone... I wouldn't... but I have to admit I may have thrown some dirty looks in my time, and never really thought about what you were saying. I will now.

¤ ¤ credit: John Kenneth Fisher | 06.13.02 at 08:16 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I don't know how many times I've given dirty looks to people who parked in handicapped spots that didn't "look" handicapped. After reading your post...I will NEVER do that again...ever. Thank you so much for writing this. And take care..

¤ ¤ credit: Amytart | 06.13.02 at 09:32 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I used to be one of those people that would give dirty looks to the people that looked fine, yet parked in handicapped spaces. About four years ago, I read an article from a young woman in the local paper who had a heart condition and couldn't walk long distances. To this day, I am much more careful who I shoot dirty looks at.

And I have to admit, on average, the older person seems more likely to be legitimately handicapped. However, I honestly would never in a million years verbally or physically assault someone in either case. Absolutely dispicable behavior.

Now I just have to get over the students here parking in all the employee spots that we paid for!

¤ ¤ credit: leandra | 06.13.02 at 09:47 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Wow Robyn.... you are simply amazing. It's true I'm one of those people who looks at "healthy" people when they park in a handicapped spot, but I'm looking for one thing in particular....the placard. If it's not there, I usually mumble to Shawn something about their laziness. But, like Adam above, if the placard is there, I assume it's there for a reason and who am I to judge on the state of health of a perfect stranger. Thanks for speaking up and letting people know how it feels to have an unseen handicap.

¤ ¤ credit: Sara | 06.13.02 at 09:59 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

1) Woo-ha. Kudos to you for your strength. That's a really well-written letter, and much less venemous than I would have been about the whole subject.

2) I went through a short period of this while I was pregnant. Our mall has 'maternity parking,' and I used to get hell when I was first pregnant. I literally would get seasick, though, from my morning sickness, and the further I would walk, the worse it would get. I had to go and pick up my husband, though: I didn't have a choice. I can't imagine having to endure this all the time. Putting up with it for six weeks or so was hard enough.

¤ ¤ credit: VASpider | 06.13.02 at 10:47 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Uh. You know. I got hell for not looking 'pregnant enough.'

I should have just puked on the woman's shoes, then asked her if I looked 'pregnant enough.'

I kinda wish I had.

¤ ¤ credit: VASpider | 06.13.02 at 10:48 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Every now and again, I wonder if someone in a handicapped space is actually handicapped or not - but that's pretty much where it ends. I'm not about to confront someone when I don't know whether they are actually handicapped or not. When I was a kid I had a great uncle who had emphysema and he looked quite healthy sometimes, but often the effort of walking from the living room to the kitchen was enough to wear him out. You'd never know it just to look at him, though.

I don't think that they even had handicapped spaces when I was a kid, or if they did I don't remember them. He almost never left the house except to go to the doctor, and I'm sure that lack of accommodation for handicapped people is one of the reasons. I wish that he'd been able to get out more, and I'm glad that people who have the same (or similar) condition can now go out and run errands and enjoy movies and so forth more easily.

Sorry that you get so much guff from people. I hope that it gets better.

¤ ¤ credit: Zonker | 06.13.02 at 10:50 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I thought handicapped spaces were for people in a hurry.... The things you learn on the internet...

¤ ¤ credit: jeesychreesy | 06.13.02 at 10:55 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Welcome to Florida. What surprises me is that people on the west coast could act so rude and obnoxious. I thought we had all the assholes here in South Florida (and in Miami). Sadly, I am mistaken. It just goes to show you that we live in an ass backward state with morons being our chief industry.

What I donít understand is why Todd didnít say anything when someone physically accosted you? Now Iím not one to ever resort to violence, but if you touch my wife and/or start yelling at her then all bets are off. I canít comprehend how anyone would do that to you. Man, thatís the part of your post that bothers me the most.

Ok, just took a couple of deep breaths, and Iím better.


¤ ¤ credit: John | 06.13.02 at 10:58 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I get many dirty looks when I pull into a handicapped spot because I look young, strong and healthy . . . from the chest up . . . which is all they can see. Three years ago, I broke my back which left me paralyzed from the chest down (T4 - para). It's funny how those looks change or how quickly they look away when they see me open the side door in the van and pull out a wheelchair!

Here's the funny thing . . . I HATE parking in the handicapped spots and I won't do it unless I have to. Distance isn't the issue for me as much as having some space to get my chair out. Often times I will go further out in a parking lot where there aren't many cars and just take up two spots (which probably gets me dirty looks as well!)

I did get upset with someone who parked in-between myself and another handi-spot user where the yellow lines are. I had no way to get into y van. The car didn't have a handi-tag or license plate either! If my wife wasn't with me to squeeze in there and back the van out so I could get in . . . I would have been there waiting for this person to come out . . . and I guarantee they would have gotten an earful!! We did notify the mall police . . . don't know if anything happened with it. Well, I will quit rambling now . . . thanks for the post! If you don't mind I would like to reference it off of my site! Thanks.

¤ ¤ credit: Jason | 06.13.02 at 10:58 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

*claps loudly*

Knowing several people in your shoes, I completely agree. When I see someone complaining to someone who parks in a handicap spot and then is harrassed because they don't *look* disabled, I look at it this way, the *ignorant* person is gonna get their day for how they act because in a blink of an eye, that could just as easily be them.

Guess they all forget the golden rule applied to them too :)

Hope you get to feeling better

¤ ¤ credit: Christina | 06.13.02 at 11:06 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

oh gosh robyn. I cant belive people are so insane! I'm sorry that you had to go though all of that....did you ever press charges against the person who physically grabbed/assaulted you?

¤ ¤ credit: Stephanie | 06.13.02 at 11:08 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Wow...I don't know what else to say except perhaps, that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all the heartless, cruel, insensitive, uneducated, mis-informed people who judge too quickly before knowing the whole story. You've opened my eyes to something I just never thought of before and you've made me a better person because of it. Thank you for sharing your story and I'm sorry if I was ever one of those people. You shouldn't have to defend yourself to me or anyone else.

¤ ¤ credit: Sean | 06.13.02 at 11:26 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Perhaps this will make you feel better...perhaps!

I was working as a cop (I'm part time now) and rolled up on a car in a handicap spot. No handicap tag, no placard, no nothing...I looked and looked and then wrote a nice fat ticket. Later that day he said the driver found me and wanted me to take the ticket back. When I asked why, he said that he was only in there for 15 minutes and that there were plenty of other open spaces nearby.

I told him, "Then you should parked there instead."

He then said, "But officer, it was real quick and it's almost Easter! Can't you cut me a break?"

I replied, "Yep, sure is. Happy Easter. The ticket stands." and I drove off.

*getting teary eyed thinking how enjoyable that was*

¤ ¤ credit: Sean | 06.13.02 at 11:35 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

My landlady has a handicapped placard. I happen to know that she has serious back problems, but to anyone who doesn't know here, she's another one of those people who *look* healthy. So, no way would I pass judgement on anyone who has one of these placards, no matter what they look like.

The worst thing I have ever seen regarding this issue is when some kid in a sportscar (with no placard) went so far as to cut off a woman, who did have one, and stole the one remaining handicapped space at a store. When I left the store, I was happy to see a ticket on the sportscar!

¤ ¤ credit: Christine M. | 06.13.02 at 12:20 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Back when I could still barely walk, I pulled into a handicapped spot at the P.O. with my little placard clearly visible in the front window. I was about 40, and I suppose I looked perfectly fine behind the wheel...and a man was walking by in front of my car and he looked at me, then pointed to the handicap sign in front of my car, and then he shook his fist in my direction. Too bad he walked quickly away, 'cause otherwise he could have given me a hand getting my walker out of the passenger seat, getting myself out of the car, gathering my purse, etc., and then holding the P.O. door open for me.

¤ ¤ credit: jody | 06.13.02 at 12:49 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

John, in Todd's defense...I mentioned in the entry...he was in the store getting a cart and completely oblivious to what was occurring outside. He's a fast-walker by nature. (His mom is even faster.) When I don't need assistance walking, takes off (sometimes with my purse if it's too heavy for me to carry) and gets the cart so we're ready to go when I make it in the door. Everything had already went down before he turned around to realize I'd been stopped. We're both non-confrontational people by nature, and he realized I was handling it -- so I'm sure, in turn, he stood back so he DIDN'T punch them (and get arrested).

If we stoop to violent behavior right back, we're really not setting the example we're trying to ask for in return.

That said, I have been known to mutter, "Fucking bitch.", loud enough for them to hear as I walk off. Hey, a girl's gotta have SOME kind of release!

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.13.02 at 02:46 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

A handicap sticker on the car means "not your business" to any bystanders. I can see myself calling the cops on somebody without one, but even me, the girl who enjoys a good fistfight once every month or so, wouldn't harass them. Some people are santimonious assholes who would rather focus on what everyone else is doing wrong that look at themselves.

Thanks for the reminder that not everyone looks the part, but that they certainly deserve respect.

¤ ¤ credit: Erynn | 06.13.02 at 02:47 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Robyn, once again, I am so sorry for you. But I am so proud of the way you handle yourself. You are very dignified, and show a lot of class, just as you always do. Just because someone shows their lack of class is no reason that you should lower yourself to their level. Hold your head high honey.

And to all of you who wrote, thanks. You can help Robyn, and all who are in her position, spread the word -- forward this to your online friends. (If you see someone making an ass of themselves over a person using aparking spot, help the handicapped person out, and speak up.) Several of you said you were unaware of the problem, if you are, so are others. You CAN make a difference. And if not YOU, then WHO? Thanks.

¤ ¤ credit: Mama | 06.13.02 at 03:17 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I agree that violence will not move this cause forward. I know that Todd wouldn't have let anyone lay a finger on you either.

However....wouldn't it be cool to have superhuman abilities and just beat the ever living crap out of someone who deserves it. Maybe if we got Todd, Erynn, and the Russian "Self-Defense" instructor that's around the corner from her and they patrolled the malls and shopping centers in the "Sunshine State" teaching sports car driving morons a lesson. Oh that would be a great comic book/graphic novel.

¤ ¤ credit: John | 06.13.02 at 03:26 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Stephanie, no. It's just not worth it. You have to then get store managers involved, wait for the police to show up, try to find witnesses, file the report...then there's court dates...I just don't have the energy to make a quick arm-grab and yank-around into a criminal matter. Now, if they'd punched me or harmed our automobile obviously... But otherwise it's just not worth it.

I did get one guy one time who did the same at Winn Dixie though. I used to be a cheerleader and athlete so I'm still a bit flexible. When he yanked me around, I just kicked my ankle (where my Medic Alert tag is) up on his shoulder and pointed to it. I think he thought I was going all kung-fu on him for a second there. It was quite hysterical. He left towards his car stumbling all over himself, quite embarrassed, with a string of apologies. :-) And Todd missed that one, too! All he saw was my leg up on some guy's shoulder when he finally turned around. *g*

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 06.13.02 at 03:29 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Very poignant, and just incredibly well put. Thank you for writing out what so many of us forget Robyn. We see somebody parking in a space reserved for what we consider belongs to someone who we stereotypically see as handicapped and we immediately jump to conclusions and become hostile towards that person. We are not omnipotent and should not judge people by what we see. But we do, oh ye we do. You'd figure that after al these years of evolution we would have learnt a thing or two, but alas, it seems that we haven't.

Thanks for sharing this with us Robyn. Thanks for reminding us of what we forget. *Big HUGS*
You are one incredible woman!

¤ ¤ credit: munin | 06.13.02 at 03:51 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Kick ass and take names Robyn. I can't belive people have actually gotten violent with you. That pisses me off to no end.

So many times I've wanted to give shit to people who park in spots that are clearly marked, but I never do because I always wonder if there is something wrong that I can't tell. Always better to play it safe then sorry in my book.

Stay strong.

¤ ¤ credit: C.C. | 06.13.02 at 04:03 PM | link--this ¤ ¤


You're so right about things not always being visible! Back when I had to be medicated because of manic depression and had to flex my work schedule so I could see my therapist EVERYDAY for two months (Yeah, it was that bad!) my coworkers would give me the same questions and looks because I didn't "look" sick. I can only imagine the parking space deal is even worse. Grr.

¤ ¤ credit: Mike McBride | 06.13.02 at 04:50 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

you rock, robyn!!

¤ ¤ credit: hoopty | 06.13.02 at 05:33 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

My step-mother has a handicap placard due to many medical problems. She lives in a small town so when I drive her to a bigger city it is a 2 hour drive, so I drive because it hurts her too much. Many times when pulling into a spot I get looks when I get out of the car because I am the 'driver' and they assume it is my car. She is right with me, but on good days she looks ok, so there have been many times we have gotten looks or something said to us. We ignore them.

It amazes me. A person can not get a tag, placard or sticker just because they want one!! If the car is tagged it is no-ones business.

Usually here in Texas though, the cars parked in the marked spots DO NOT have tags, placards or stickers. I get upset when we have to park way out in the parking lot due to some "I'll just be a minute" shoppers. I try to get her to let me drop her off at the front door, but she wants so bad to be able to walk the distance that it hurts her feelings. If she walks to the door, she can never make it back. Too much walking etc...when shopping so I have to drive up front and pick her up.

My hats off to Sean! Way to go!!! I wish that would happen more often!

Robyn..as my step-mother would say..."You sound like good people!"

¤ ¤ credit: Shelby | 06.13.02 at 06:44 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Robyn, I'm so sorry that you have to go through all this - I can relate at some level since I've had serious back problems for the past 2 years. When I'm having a "good day", I appear to be fine but if I sit or stand for just a few minutes too long, the pain can become unbearable. And yet people have the gall to tell me I have a low tolerance for pain or that surely it's not as bad as I make it out to be.

I agree wholeheartedly with Tracy's comment - that it's extremely unfair and unfortunate that people don't trust that you are handicapped because you don't look it, but at the same time, if they didn't check people who appear fine, a lot more people would take those handicapped parking spaces that you really need.

¤ ¤ credit: pie | 06.13.02 at 07:05 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I'm recovering from what Robyn has (and not everyone does recover, I'm very lucky) and at one time I also had a Parking Sticker. I couldn't drive at the time, to my grey-haired mother would be driving and we really didn't ever have any trouble - but I do admit that everytime I see a car in a disabled spot I look for the sticker. I don't give a rats arse what the person looks like, I just care that the sticker is there. Also, if there was no sticker but the person really did look disabled or unwell in some way I'd cut them a little slack, but anyone else I'd be reporting them to the cops or the shopping centre management office.

I remember a few years back Robyn gave me a pearler to throw at someone who said that I didn't look disabled. It went something like this: "Well, you don't look ignorant either. It's amazing how looks can be deceiving isn't it?" And a part of me is a little pissed that I haven't been able to use it yet ;)

For anyone that hassles "healthy looking" people with stickers, grow up. They're next to impossible to get, the person has the sticker for a reason and it's none of your f***ing business why.

¤ ¤ credit: Joanne | 06.13.02 at 07:29 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

this is such an important point -- and people need to be reminded of it, because not everyone thinks things through. i have asthma, and so i think about things like this - i never assume someone is healthy just because they're young and can walk.

it's horrid that people are so quick to judge, and unthinkable that they would actually get physical with you.

¤ ¤ credit: kd | 06.13.02 at 07:46 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I am very honored to know you and Todd. Have I told you that lately?? And I am so proud of you for standing up and letting others know about your experience. I, too... have spent time really sick when I didn't "look" it. I can't say that I know how you feel (I am better now) but I understand the looks people give you and the questions.

It's no one business. Period. You have every right to have that placard and if someone can't understand that, then it's their own loss. Much love to you girl!!

¤ ¤ credit: Christi | 06.13.02 at 07:46 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

*Applause! Applause!*

You go, Robyn!

¤ ¤ credit: meryl | 06.13.02 at 07:51 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

This is something that gets my goat, because I can never find a handicapped spot to park in. On the other hand, what I don't do is look at the person I look for a sticker.

In the UK the stickers are blue (or orange, if it's pre-EU) and sit on the dashboard at the front; it's something very visible and easily verified. They even have photographs on them (on the back or inside) for quick verification on the spot.

I know people who, like you, have conditions that can't be seen, so I refrain from judging on appearances. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make my blood boil when I see a car without the blue sticker...

¤ ¤ credit: Benny | 06.13.02 at 08:47 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Robyn - Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. So many people think if they can't recognize the illness from the outside then your real problem must be in the head. This idea spreads far beyond the parking lot. Sadly when it comes to Fibromyalgia and CFS even some doctors share this dangerous and narrow-minded view.

For years my mother was told there was nothing wrong with her. The headaches, phantom pains, sleeplessness were all chalked up to exaggeration. Finally my mother met a wonderful doctor who said "this isn't all in your head, let's find out what's wrong." Shortly after she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. How sad is it that we almost celebrated this diagnosis? This diagnosis that means Mom will spend the rest of her life battling pain, sleeplessness, fatigue, headaches and more.

Please know how much I admire people like you and my mother who live with this pain and still find ways to bring so much happiness to the world. Keep your chin up.

¤ ¤ credit: Angela | 06.13.02 at 10:20 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

you are so strong and so admirable.

¤ ¤ credit: ericalynn | 06.13.02 at 10:46 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Way to go Robyn, very well written! More people need to be aware of invisible handicaps - they can be just as severe as the highly visible ones, but much harder for outsiders to understand.

I sympathize with what you're going through, we've faced this situation ourselves. Thank you for speaking out and helping more people understand and perhaps THINK a little before they ACT.

Keeping you both in our prayers sweetie. Hope you feel better soon.

¤ ¤ credit: karen | 06.14.02 at 02:15 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Well, Robyn, once again---you see how many GREAT friends you have. Whenever some idiot jerk does this to you, just remember the multitude of friends you have here, and then feel sorry for that person. Because they must not have much in life to be thankful for if that's all they have time to do is meddle into your business.

¤ ¤ credit: mama | 06.14.02 at 01:31 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

That was a really great entry, and I'm glad someone posted it. I have a friend with arthritis (she was diagnosed when she was six months old and is only 22 now) and she frequently can't walk well or far. Still, she has avoided getting a handicapped tag for her car because she is afraid of the implications. Except for a knee brace that she occasionally wears, she looks healthy. I wish enough people would read that she wouldn't have to be afraid to admit that she's sick, even though she doesn't look the part.

¤ ¤ credit: Amber | 06.14.02 at 02:04 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

My husband has RSD in his left foot and has a handicap placard. He is only 23 years old and "looks" healthy. He has been dealing with pain 24/7 for 6 years. Sometimes he has his bad days and you can tell that he's limping, but most of the time he walks normal. We live in Nevada and I'm glad, so far, we have not been harrassed by anyone. Sometimes I feel like people do stare at us because we seem to be a young and healthy couple. If they just knew what he deals with everyday!

¤ ¤ credit: Debbie | 06.16.02 at 02:15 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I went on a girls' getaway with two friends of mine from work. One has a heart condition (32) and the other has cystic fibrosis (40). Neither one of them really look their age or act like it. When we got to the parking lot, CF girl refused to park in the handicapped spot - she didn't want the guff we'd get. It took us almost a half hour to walk 50 feet. I thought either one would pass out, they had so much trouble walking and breathing.

People can be so stupid... I mean, here they are almost killing themselves so some buttface wouldn't be rude to them.


¤ ¤ credit: Tam | 06.16.02 at 06:11 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I'm currently suffering from sciatica, which makes it very painful to walk, and when I can walk, I can only walk with my back all hunched up and then only for a short distance. Just yesterday, some woman growled at me for parking in a handicapped spot. That really pissed me off, because I had my handicapped placard hanging off my rearview mirror in PLAIN VIEW of anyone who would look at my car. I went into the store, did my business, and waited for the woman to leave. When I saw her leaving the store, I walked up to her, handicap placard in hand, and confronted her. She was still going on about how it's illegal for me to park in that spot, but all that stopped when I showed her the placard. She went all apologetic, I just shook my head and walked, painfully I might add, away. I look normal when I'm driving, I'm only 23 years old, but geez, I really do wish some people would keep their comments to themselvex, ya know?

¤ ¤ credit: Jason | 12.17.02 at 03:48 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

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