I wouldn’t say much, if anything. Intellectually, I understood the purpose of handicapped parking spaces. And while I would do an internal grimace whenever I was looking for a parking space and find the only empty spaces to be those marked handicapped, I knew that if they weren’t marked, they would have been long filled.
Intellectually, I understood it. I’d even bite my tongue when I’d see people with a handicapped parking sticker or tag on their cars rather cheerfully exit their automobiles and almost skip to wherever it was they were going. Handicapped, right.
Then came the ruptured disk in my back.
After working at home for three weeks (the most comfortable position was flat on my back on the floor), I finally had enough pain medication to consider returning to work.
What I forgot was that the building with my office was a good long block from the employee parking lot. And it was uphill, requiring maneuvering through several sets of stairs. With my cane and my computer bag. And having to use an umbrella when it’s raining.
This lasted all of about three days.
I talked to the doctor and got the form for a handicapped parking space. I went to a state revenue office and paid the small fee. It was good for 90 days. I would later renew it once, for an additional 90 days.
Instead of walking a long block uphill, I was able to park right outside my office building. Flat terrain. No stairs. It was still a hassle when it rained (and later snowed), having two hands when I needed three for the cane, computer bag and umbrella, but it was a much shorter hassle.
In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge says that one of the first things that happened after he experienced a physical affliction was “new-found compassion for the handicapped and the infirm. My pain sensitized me to the pain of the world.”
I can’t say my pain, and the affliction of a ruptured disk, sensitized me to the pain of the world, but it did make me extraordinarily thankful for handicapped parking spaces. It helped me understand why there were needed in the first place. It stopped my internal complaining. And it made me more conscious of people with physical handicaps who have to struggle to do the things we take for granted.
Like walking to your office from the parking lot.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. To see more posts on this chapter, “Comfort for the Afflicted,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.
Photograph by Tonny Watanebe via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.