In New York, you don’t need much to get a permit for handicap parking. I got my first handicap parking permit when I was working in NYC for the parking at the train station. It was very early in my MS years and I was relatively well at first look. I’m sure when I used the parking permit and people saw me get out of the car there were quick judgements that I looked fine, why did I need a handicap parking pass. At this point my issues with my MS weren’t in the short distance it was if I attempt to walk long distances. The reason I needed it for parking at the train station was because if I was t in a handicap parking spot the places that I would find to park would be so far away that I’d have issues by the time I got to the train station. I tried never to abuse my privilege with my permit and if a close regular spot was available I’d use that and leave the handicap open for someone who needed it.
Now fast forward 15 years or so. Now I desperately need my handicap spot and it seems everyone has one. The other day I was walking into an appointment in a shopping center. This particular shopping center has very few handicap spots of which were all taken. I still use my walker because I like to try to walk as long as I could. However walking is very difficult for me. As I’m stumbling along I see two women approaching one of the cars in the handicap spots. Both ladies walking perfectly fine, carrying bags of stuff and laughing. They looked over at me hobbling along and looked away. I was so angry. That spot should have been saved for someone who needed it. I did briefly think that you don’t know what their issue is, they look fine, you once looked fine too. I know that not all of us show our symptoms and I could never know what makes things difficult for someone else. I also know that many people have disabled parents they take care of and use the handicap tag even when they aren’t with them. I’ve seen so many times people parking and getting out of a handicap spot running into a store without even having a handicap tag. I’ve seen it all the time people in and out of the handicap spot perfectly fine looking walking through malls and walking out again to their handicap spot. I know and I try to remember way back in my early days when I too looked fine but my difference was when I got back to my car, you’d see I wasn’t fine even back then. It frustrates me and I know it frustrates others. It’s so easy to get these permit tags and no one follows up to make sure they are valid. Many places don’t offer adequate number of handicap parking spots. I don’t have an answer here but I know I’m not alone in my aggregation on the subject. Once again I wish someone would step in and advocate correctly for us.