Do you ever feel like a sucker for not obtaining a handicap parking permit? I know I do when I see otherwise healthy people park in the handicap parking spot and walk away from their vehicles with nary a sign of disability. In Los Angeles people with the handicap placard on their cars can park their cars for free at the meters downtown. As a result, hundreds of cars bear the signs from their rearview mirrors, hogging up all the parking spaces. This is costing the city millions of dollars in lost revenue.
But this abuse doesn't just happen in downtown L.A.; it happens everywhere. It is so prevalent that I feel like an idiot for not finding myself a doctor that can grant me one of these coveted signs. I was at the mall the other day and I saw a luxury Lexus SUV pull into the disabled parking spot, blue tag clearly hanging from its mirror. When it stopped, out popped four happy looking people, all in their 40's or less, walking effortlessly inside. Steaming, I continued my fruitless search circling the lot for a parking space.
But you may retort, "Dr. Z, not all people who have handicaps display their disability openly." Therein lies the problem. How do you define disability? We all recognize that a person who suffered a stroke and needs a wheelchair to get around has a disability. But does a person with severe chronic fatigue deserve a handicap parking space? How about somebody with restless leg syndrome? They have trouble with their motor movements. They must be able to park close to their destination therefore they should get a handicap placard too, right? A few years ago, one of our neighbors was diagnosed with lung cancer. Normally I would agree that somebody getting treated for cancer deserves the placard. Years after his treatment was over, he never went back to work. He never relinquished that treasured sign either. He continued collecting the state and Social Security disability payments. Meanwhile I watched him enviously every day as he stayed at home working on his motor boat and spent time with his three sons, taking them out on weekends to the lake. It's not like he was on oxygen or had any evidence of respiratory distress. He was just one happy looking dad who had the luxury of spending all of his time at home with his family and toys. Should he still be considered handicapped?
What would be a believable disability that afflicts anesthesiologists that I could get? Back pain? Yeah we have lots of anesthesiologists around here who complain of that? Anxiety? Plenty of that too. Maybe I'll settle for recovering drug addict. Most people wouldn't bat an eye if I said I'm a recovering addict. That's already widely perceived by the public already. Then I'll get a disability placard so I can park by the front door, not giving a damn what other people think as I saunter in while they keep circling the parking lot.