To all the Bullies & Toadies,

A while of ago we stopped at a strip mall so that my wife could run into a shop.  While I was waiting outside I observed a large white SUV pull up in front of the store.   I watched as the vehicle idled directly in front of the accessible curb-cut ramp at the entrance to the store.  A few minutes passed before a middle-aged woman got out of the passenger front seat to promptly walk in the store.   A few seconds later a middle-aged male passenger got out of the rear seat and stood next to the vehicle while smoking a cigarette.   The vehicle continued idling while blocking the main path of entry to the store.

After a few drags of the cigarette the male passenger threw the cigarette down on the sidewalk and walked inside the store, without actually butting out the cigarette.

The driver of the vehicle then moved the SUV approximate 15 feet over to the closest designated ‘accessible’ parking space and turned off the vehicle.   The driver then pulled out a government-issued parking permit for people with disabilities.   The rest of the parking lot was basically empty so there were a variety of spaces available, including ones that would have been a similar distance away from the entry.  The driver never got out of the vehicle and eventually the passengers returned, walked over to the parked vehicle and got in to leave.

I know this is not a new story, nor a unique story, but it is yet one more example of the self-centered attitude that needs to be exposed as a reminder to the rest of us.   It is too easy to immediately write-off this type of incident as one belligerent bully driver, or as one more toady with a disability taking advantage of the system.

The selfishness of blocking the entry with an idling vehicle is wrong for so many reasons, including the build-up of exhaust fumes in the only path of travel all customers must move through while the vehicle is ‘parked’ idling.   Similarly for the selfishness of the smoking passenger who adopted this same area directly adjacent to the front door as being their own ‘smoking lounge’ regardless of the rest of the customers ability to breathe as they move in or out of the store at that time.  AND if you must smoke, then don’t be so lazy, at least butt out the cigarette rather than leave it smoldering on the ground to eventually become one more piece of litter.

The attitude of the world revolves around only ‘my needs’ is simply not acceptable and as a community we need to stand up to these bullies and toadies who continue to block the accessible pathways.   And these same bullies and toadies should be ashamed of themselves in the fact that even though some medical doctor has determined that they are eligible to have a parking permit because of a disability it does not allow them to interpreted it to be a license to be more important than everyone else.

If you are the person with the disability you should recognize that life in a poorly designed world is challenging on the good days and a real bitch on the bad days.   Why, as a person with a disability, would you chose to become a part of being the “bitch” by become a barrier to everyone else.  Park elsewhere if you are not actually getting out of your vehicle.  Leave the designated space to someone who actually needs it for more than just a place to idle a vehicle.

The reality of being so self-centered is that people really start to believe the world revolves around them and everyone else is inconsequential.    The only thing that the world revolves around is the sun and beyond a shadow of a doubt the driver and the passengers in the SUV on that day were definitely no bright shining lights.

Bullies and toadies need to be exposed.  I hope drivers and the passengers do recognize themselves in this story, as people need to understand that their actions do affect others and if the roles were reversed those same individuals would have been quite vocal about the infringement of their rights by the bullies and toadies.

About Brian

A Professional Interior Designer who has also completed graduate studies in industrial design and business management, and has specialized in the areas of functional design for products and buildings in respect of the issues of disabilities, aging and Universal Design for over 30 years.