In a weird way, I believe in karma. And for that reason, I’ve been hesitant to share this story; I don’t ever want to be like the man in this story. But the more and more I think about it, the more and more I think it’s important for people to read. So here goes…
A few months ago, I was at the grocery store and had an encounter with an elderly man. I had pulled into the parking garage and looked for a handicapped parking space. They were all taken, so I chose a space in the corner. I pulled my car into the space, making sure the passenger side was as close to the wall as I could get so I would have extra room on the driver’s side to get my wheelchair in and out. There was no one in the spot next to me when I went into the store.
When I finished shopping and came back to the car, there was a large Nissan sedan parked next to me. I started getting in my car, dealing with the very tight space between our two cars, when my wheelchair bumped the side of the Nissan. There was an elderly man in the passenger seat and another man in the driver’s seat (I am assuming his caretaker). The elderly man became very angry that I had bumped his car and started yelling at me. I apologized profusely and explained that the handicapped spots were all taken when I had gotten to the store. The driver waived his hand indicating that he understood and to not worry. However, the elderly man kept screaming at me – “You bumped my car! There are probably scratches all over it! What are you thinking just scratching and bumping my car?”
I felt terrible. I asked if he wanted to get out and look at the car. “I will pay for any damages. I am truly sorry. I didn’t have any other option but to park here because all of the other spots were taken.”
“Well that doesn’t solve the problem, does it? Sorry doesn’t fix this…” he bellowed at me.
I wanted to scream at him, “You’re right, sorry doesn’t fix this. Sorry doesn’t fix the eight inch scar I have on one leg and the thirteen inch scar on the other leg. Sorry doesn’t fix the fact that I accidentally bumped your car because I need a wheelchair.” But instead, I apologized one last time and drove off. As I was backing out of the spot, I noticed that the Nissan was over the white parking space line and parked a few inches into my space. I just drove off, shaking from frustration.
I was on my lunch break and headed back to the office. Driving along the San Francisco Bay water, I couldn’t stop thinking about how mean this man was, and tears started running down my face. Rarely in my life do I wish pain or struggle upon another human being. But that afternoon, I hoped that someday that man would spend a few weeks being treated the way he treated me. I shed a few more tears, pulled it together, and carried on my day. After all, life isn’t fair, and I am glad that I’m not living a bitter, old man’s life.
Moral of the Story: Watch where you park. And remember that handicapped spots aren’t just needed because they’re closer to the building. The extra space next to them is crucial for most people. Oh, and if you happen to be in your car and the person next to you needs extra space, for crying out loud, please offer to move out of their way!