Originally I was going to rant about all the fakers out there who want access to the Special Handicapped Club™ that allows the best parking, use of motorized grocery carts where we don’t have to walk, and gets our dogs into stores. Instead I decided to share what it’s like for a disabled person when those things aren’t available. This story is based on actual events on one very unfortunate day…
It’s a nice summer day, my fibro isn’t giving me too much trouble, so I consider it a good day. I actually feel rested enough to get some errands done. I get dressed and venture into public as if I were any other person. I actually have a full collection of spoons on this day to get things done.
First stop, hardware store. I realized on this day that I actually use the hardware store more than I thought I did and wondered if there were people who have never been in a hardware store. I pull into the parking lot and start circling the lot looking for a parking spot. I see the handicapped sign and head over that way. It doesn’t look like anyone is parked in it.
What the actual hell? The spot is being used to store those flat carts that you only find in hardware stores and Ikea. There is about a half dozen or so of them in the spot. I park as close as I possibly can because the other ’empty’ spot a couple isles over is filled with regular carts. On this day I end up parking twice the distance away from the store than I should have had to. I grab my cane and head into the store.
First stop, customer service. The store is busy. Ignoring the dirty looks being flashed at me, I cut in front of all the people in line – and there are quite a few people, some who were already annoyed that they had been waiting a while. I look at the lady at customer service who is trying to help someone and state loudly as many people as possible can hear, “Your handicapped spots are inaccessible and filled with shopping carts.” What was originally annoyance with me from other customers turns to disbelief that the store would allow that to happen. The employee yells at someone to get bring carts in. I don’t even get an apology.
I get what I came for and leave the store. The arthritis pain in my feet and ankles is starting to kick in and my hip is threatening to make the leap from dull ache to sore. Concrete warehouse floors are very unforgiving. The person that was yelled at to bring in carts from the lot is just now getting to the handicapped spots.
Next stop is the craft/fabric store. The shopping center has oddly dispersed handicapped spots. Where I need to be there are maybe 4 spots for three stores. All are in use. As I park I wonder if I really need to make this stop because it means extra walking, again. I decide that I am already there and suck it up. I grab my cane and head into the store.
The store isn’t busy but it does have narrow isles and they always put displays in the widest of isles trying to cram as much possible into the space they have. The worst part about craft store shopping is always waiting in line to check out. I have no idea why it’s so slow except for those people that want to argue about prices or their coupon or whatever. Craft stores are the worst for that kind of thing.
As I am checking out yarn colours I end up getting hit with a cart in my bad hip because someone is busy talking on their cell phone and not watching where they are going. I scream in pain and the person doesn’t apologize or excuse me. Just moves their cart out of the way and their conversation turns to what yarn colours they should pick up. My shopping companion materializes from wherever they were in the store and I explain very loudly that “some rude person talking on their cell phone and not paying attention to where they are going slammed their cart into my bad hip.” The woman responsible just gives me a look like she did no such thing and shrugs.
I am now limping worse than what is normal because of pain and not being able to put weight on my hip. Cane or not, having to compensate for my left hip aggravates the bursitis and other problems in my left knee. By the time I am ready to leave the store, and believe me, I didn’t stay any longer than I needed to, I am having a really hard time getting around, even with my cane. I end up walking slower than I would I would like and the couple people in the store who are now unfortunate enough to cross paths with me end up complaining because I am moving too slow.
And I still have to go to the grocery store. I should have stayed home.
I am actually happy to get to the car because it means I can sit, even if I have to drive. The pain in my hip is now radiating across the top of my entire pelvic bone and down to my knee. I want to cry. My knee is starting to swell and threaten to dislocate.
I am so done with people.
“Grocery store and then home.” I say reminding myself that I am almost done.
The grocery store presents more challenges starting with the parking lot. Someone parked their expensive sports car in one of the handicapped spots where it wouldn’t get hit. I found a non-handicapped parking space further away from the store than I would have liked, and pulled out my phone. I made a note of the licence number and make and make, model and colour of car.
Inside the store I stopped at the motorized carts, debating if my body was going to allow me to make it through the store without one. While they are a huge help, I find them equally as annoying. As I was stepping toward the cart a family with a small child walked by. In the sort of excited voice only a little kid can muster, I hear, “I wanna go for a ride!” The child’s mom said she could, that it wouldn’t hurt anything, and plopped her butt into the cart seat and her kid jumped up on her lap. No motorized cart for me. I limped over to customer service. I showed them the note on my phone. “This person is parked in a handicapped spot without plates or a placard.” I was told they would take care of it.
In the bathroom the handicapped stall wasn’t available because a perfectly able bodied person decided they needed it. My choices were wait or navigate a much more narrow stall and worry about banging my hip up even more. I ended up choosing the inconvenience of the smaller stall because fibromylagia often dictates your bladder. Over in produce I ran into a lady with a little dog sitting in the child seat of the grocery cart sniffing and drooling on all the vegetables. Half way through the store my hip totally gave out. If it wasn’t for the grocery cart I would have fallen. It Over in the freezer isle I had a lady hit me with a stroller. She looked at me like it was my fault for being in the way and said nothing. When I looked down I realized that it was a doggy stroller and she didn’t have a little kid with her like I thought.
It was a huge relief when I could finally leave the store.
Out in the parking lot the guy with the sports car was throwing a tantrum and yelling at the police officer for the ticket he received for parking in the handicapped spot. He didn’t like being told that not wanting your car to get hit wasn’t a good enough reason to park there.
Once I got home I was worried that I wasn’t going to make it up the stairs. My feet protested under the pressure of walking, my hip was struggling to support my body. Pain takes a lot out of the body and all I wanted to do was go to bed. My body had gone through enough throughout my outing that I knew the next day I would be dealing with a fibro flare.
I did end up emailing the grocery store about the dog issue. Their unofficial official stance is while dogs are not permitted in the store, they would rather have someone bring their pet in then risk them leaving it in a hot car. I was also told they really can’t ask if a dog is a service dog.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to ensure equal access to those that need special accommodations. It’s beyond aggravating that perfectly abled people take advantage of laws in place for those of us who are not. The feel like they are missing out on something special. Believe me when I say that I would rather be able-bodied than have to park in handicapped spots because I have to worry about falling in a parking lot and getting hurt. I would rather not have to take a colourful variety of medications every day to keep my pain and other symptoms at a manageable level. I forget what it’s like to not walk with a cane. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be pain free. It must be nice to be able to eat and not worry if you are going to throw up afterward or be able to get a decent nights sleep without waking up every time you move because of pain. It must be nice not to have to rely on someone to do every day things for you like make your bed because you don’t have full range of motion in your hands and wrists, not to mention manipulating your bottom sheet and mattress causes extreme pain.
And yet, there is always someone every day who has to take advantage of a system for those who are disabled because they feel like they are either missing out or that they have the same rights to those things put into place for the disabled. It’s hard to enforce laws and store policies because there is always going to be that one person that takes offense at being called on faking and has words with corporate store management over it. That person that acting entitled and being indignant and threatening a law suit when they are asked to remove their dog from the store because it’s licking all the apples over in the produce section is why store management allows so much stuff to slide. They don’t want to risk the bad press or law suits so everyone has to be miserable and often the disabled have to manage without those things that would make leaving the house easier and less stressful.
Thanks for that, and thanks for causing me more and unnecessary physical pain. It’s much appreciated.