I remember mother and baby (as it was then) parking coming in - I was pregnant when our Tesco first got it ten years ago.
Admittedly, there were teething problems, but within a year or two, it became accepted and normal and now, nobody would dream of encroaching on parent and baby spaces without a damn good reason.
Disabled parking though - a whole other ball game! - We've had it for donkey's years and yet it's still abused and made difficult for people who actually need it continually.
This last few weeks has been SO frustrating driving wise! - Three incidents in particular:
1) There was the instance of the able-bodied woman with no blue badge, who was returning to her car (illegally parked in the only blue badge square on Carrick-on-Shannon High Street) just as I was looking to park, so I did the standard - got her attention, showed my blue badge and indicated I needed to park in the square (yes I know we shouldn't have to but...)
Well! She gave me a look like she'd just scraped me off her shoe and instead of moving off, settled down to read a book!
Fortunately I was able to snap a photo on my 'phone (the final catalyst for her moving) and on the strength of showing that to the Gardai, she's being issued a fixed penalty anyway - the Garda I dealt with incidentally, was incensed (- very impressed by the level of understanding the local Gardai Siochana have over these things - second to none that I know of Globally on disability issues!)
2) I parked in the blue-badge space outside Heatons' store and when I came back, not only had a delivery driver taken the blue-badge space to sit and have his lunch, he'd parked at such an angle that his front end was over into my space and I couldn't have got out without hitting him. - Trouble is, he was quite a big bloke, so I didn't have the confidence to confront him, so instead I ended up doing the cowardly thing and saying to him: "Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you at lunch, but I'm a learner driver and I wondered if you'd be able to move over a wee bit so I don't damage your vehicle practising my reversing (I'm still disgusted with myself over that one!)
3) Yesterday, coming up Ballinamore High Street, I was hoping to park in the blue badge space near the bank. As I approached, there was a lady half emerged from the side-street so I pulled up with my indicator still on and waited. - It transpired, she was having a chat with some woman who was standing in the road. - Now that I can understand to a point, she could conceivably have thought initially I was turning into the road, BUT a) Our car is covered with stickers the garage insisted on when they adapted our car and they all make it clear the car's a disability vehicle; b) After a few moments, surely it's clear that's not where someone's going.
My feeling was she'd decided I was going to use the blue-badge space illegally and wasn't going to put herself out by moving.
This was borne out when we did cut out round her (into traffic I might add - I have seldom felt less safe but we had to) and park in the space, even though I made a point of letting her see me put my badge out, she still looked C over when he got out (he's able-bod) and looked me up and down to and sneared - until I walked round the edge of the car. When she saw the stick, she at least had the grace to blush and scarper.
So why am I still so ticked off about these things?
Well for one, I'm having a grumpy day about my low mobility, but it doesn't help that again today, I had some able-bod idiot try to turn into the blue-badge square at the same time I was and AGAIN, his behaviour changed only AFTER he saw the stick.
It annoys the heck out of me - well, both things do!
If nothing else ever sinks in about disability issues in the day to day world, then let these three facts be it!
1) Blue-badge squares are there for a reason
- it's not there as an alternative to parking on double yellows (yes, that excuse has been offered)
- and that's not to be convenient for you, even for a "quick dip into..." wherever. Those of us who are lucky enough to be given a blue-badge have it because we NEED that support in able to be anything like normal and independent.
I know a lot of able-bods think that those of us who aren't "lazy" or "scammers" just have too much of a chip on our shoulders about the whole issue, or just like to be loud and objectionable about our rights, but to those I say - they just don't understand the importance of this issue to those of us living on the margins of "normal" society.
For us, it's not just inconvenience - for example, those spaces are wider because we do need a full door's width to get into and out of our vehicle for one thing - even those of us who use walking aids other than a chair. - For example, I like to consider myself fairly fit and sporty for a disabled chick and if I have a bad day, it can take me 17 minutes to get my bad leg into the car - I know, we've timed it! (out of interest and my stubbornness wanting to see if I could do it alone).
2) Our special parking is there because we need it so we don't have to mobilise so much to get somewhere.
- Okay, so this one is a wee bit obvious you'd think? Seemingly not!
Also, the context plays a role with this one. Every reasonably intelligent mind will appreciate that if you as a disabled person go to the supermarket and actually manage to negotiate all the obstacles there and actually manage to get your shopping, you're likely to be pretty tired when you finish - and if you then have to walk (even with an aid) or roll clean across the carpark as some able-bodied idiot without a badge or a reason for being there (obviously it's appropriate to park there if you have granny with you - she's in similar straights, but not solo able-bods popping in for a sandwich on lunch!) - it rankles!
It's not so obvious with social places like theatres and cinemas, but it's just as important.
A lot of us don't get a huge amount of invites to social stuff. - Most of us, if we're really lucky have a very small, tight group of friends who're used to going about with us and whose confidence has grown over time until they're more comfortable to be out and about with us.
If we DO happen to be invited out to a play or a movie lets say, then there's also a fair deal of trepidation on our part too - we don't want to "spoil" the night for our nearest and dearest - okay for most of us, they'd be understanding if something goes wrong, but still, we don't want our loved ones evening disrupted because things go wrong for us.
Okay so it's not an occasion when it's essential for us to be able to have easy access to something, we after all don't HAVE to tire ourselves out going to a play or film, but then it isn't for able-bods either is it? - Again, it's really unfair for us to have to juggle "is it going to be possible to find a badge space near enough to the theatre/cinema?" - especially not after so much time has passed since disabled parking became supposedly "the norm".
3) Not every disabled person is a wheelchair user and not every disabled person is over thirty!
- and those of us who aren't over thirty, or who don't use a chair should not be treated like some weird kind of 'second-class' disabled.
Okay, so human beings make snap judgements based on what they see, it's in our make-up.
Granted, but that's only for the first 9.something so lets call it 10 seconds. - What's the excuse for the rest of the time?
We are fortunate enough to live in a society where MOST prejudices are now getting to be, if not already, a thing of the past. So what's the problem with young disabled people?
We happen to be two things: young and disabled.
We didn't want it, but it either has always been this way or it happened.
****WE ARE NO LESS VALID PEOPLE BECAUSE WE'RE BOTH YOUNG AND DISABLED****
We do not need pity or sympathy - we know life's not meant to be like this, we're not stupid! Neither do we need "a bit of a push" to "try a little harder" or any other twee line you care to think of.
We're just doing like any other person and making the best possible life we can and just like anyone else, we have a right to do that in our own way, making the use of the supports that are right for us (if we chose to) and most importantly, we, like anyone else, have the right to do that without obstruction on interference.
So the next time you're pulling up somewhere remember:
* If you don't have a blue-badge you don't park in blue-badge spaces
* If you're near to a blue-badge space then you need to be aware. - Are you blocking someone getting in/out of disabled parking? Are you parked too close to their vehicle to let them get in/out?
Just use your common - please! So many just don't