Have you ever envied those people who have handicapped tags, thus giving them permission to park in those coveted blue-striped spaces? These usually represent the ultimate in parking lot real estate. No other slab of asphalt screams a louder location, location, location.
Did you ever watch some of those people get in and out of their vehicles? Yeah, I agree, many of them are about as handicapped as an Olympic pole vaulter.
Anyway, two weeks ago, as I hobbled out of the doctor’s office with my half-empty bottle of Aleve jiggling in my pocket, I had in my possession a slip of paper the doctor had signed that would reward my endurance for pain with a bright red card to hang from my rear-view mirror for the next six months. Holy crap–I have arrived amongst the elite silver spooners, the upper crusters, the trustees of the crown jewel…the handicapped parkers!
So I should be happy, right? After all, I have been in substantial pain for several weeks now and walking, especially long treks across parking lots, has become an arduous task. No, I am not wheelchair-bound and I don’t even use a cane. I tried a cane but I am cane-challenged. I could not figure out with which hand I should hold the cane, let alone coordinate its timing and placement in the air and on the ground. I felt it lowered the odds considerably as to how soon and how violently I would fall.
It’s my left knee that is the problem. It’s been a ticking time bomb for the past five years. That’s how long it’s been since I had a total replacement done on my right knee. I was supposed to get the left one done once the surgery on the right healed. It was not meant to be. My right leg went ballistic with nerve and muscle reaction to the new joint and carried out its excruciating rebellion for a good three years before settling down. I made a promise to my left leg, and to myself, that I would never do that again. So I nixed having the left knee replaced.
Well, five years of nixing was tolerable until about a month ago. Something happened and I still don’t know exactly what. But I know the result. I hurt enough now to finally bite the bone and have the left knee replaced. I’m down for the count, pounding my fist on the mat and crying uncle. I have to hope the first operation was a fluke and the second one will go much better. It’s still a month away.
So, now back to the handicapped parking pass. It is a relic of the term “handicapped” which has been pretty much eradicated in America and replaced with more politically correct references. But this valuable sliver of red or blue card stock has somehow managed to retain it’s original name and most people refer to it accordingly. And guess what? When someone like me gets one, it is, indeed, a handicap.
I am so fearful of people thinking I don’t deserve having the pass, that I find myself avoiding the handicapped spaces if a regular one is in the vicinity. And if I do park between the sacred blue lines I have a tendency to emphasize my lopsided gate once outside the car and walking. “See everyone?” Yeah, I’m in really bad shape and that handicapped pass dangling inside my windshield sure helps me avoid a lot of extra pain. God Bless the DMV.”
Now, I know I’m making more out of this than it deserves, but at my age the glory days are few and far between. So if a little extra privilege comes your way and you’re really hurtin’, then screw what some stranger in a parking lot may think. Enjoy the superior location and all the benefits it has to offer. Once in a while it’s nice to have a leg up on everybody else…even if it does hurt like hell.