When my doctor suggested I apply for a temporary handicapped-parking permit, my first reaction was: What, me disabled? But a severe hip ailment had made it painful to walk, even with a cane and I would need to drive to medical and other appointments. So, when my blue and white “disabled persons parking identification placard” arrived in the mail, I gratefully hung it from my rearview mirror and used it a few times. Then, as my mobility improved, I buried it in my glove compartment.
A few months later, I had to drive to an important all-day meeting. Hoping to avoid paying parking-garage ransom prices, I made several futile loops looking for a meter that allowed more than two hours. With the meeting about to start, I remembered my parking placard. This will just be a one-time thing, I told myself. Miraculously, I found a parking spot and dodged the moral dilemma. To avoid future temptation, I later removed the placard from the car. Clearly, lots of able-bodied drivers have no such qualms. Do you think this could become something that would be abused during the holidays or in the downtown areas? What are the consequences to keep it from being abused?
Happy to be Mobile Again
Dear Happy to be Mobile Again,
While many drivers genuinely need the placards they’ve been issued, that free unlimited parking can be awfully tempting. There are different types of conditions that qualify you to receive disabled parking privileges. If you have a disability that meets at least one of the criteria on the website link: http://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/parkingreqs.html you would be eligible for a disabled parking placard. It is a misdemeanor to sell a placard or to obtain one wrongfully. This would include borrowing your grandmother’s or anyone’s disabled placard. To obtain any parking privileges, it requires a health care practitioner to authorize and renew special parking privileges, and makes it a misdemeanor for improperly displaying a placard. Disabled advocates are hoping a new measure passed in the legislative session will go a long way in curbing the rampant abuse of the system. The new law took effect July 1, 2014. Anyone caught improperly using a placard will face a $450 fine. There is another important aspect to this disabled parking pass that is more concerning to me. It is the subliminal effect of having your disabled placard displayed on your rearview visor reminding you of your disability as you drive down the street. Your brain may not see it consciously, but subconsciously it is reading over and over, “I am disabled.” If you want someone to think or feel a certain way, just remind them every day subliminally over and over and eventually they will agree. Put this placard in your glovebox or your console until you need it to park. You don’t need to be reminded by a placard affirmation on your visor! Your brain is a powerful computer and what you put into it, as humans, will become what you recall and believe. Even a temporary disability is difficult to get through, yet when you experience it, you appreciate good health and mobility.