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The Other Abled

 No one wants to be considered handicapped.  No one wants to be referred to as handicapped.  Many hate the term disabled as well.   There are numerous groups that trumpet long and loudly the more politically correct terms for those who are the H-word or the D-word. 

There is something called "disability etiquette" which exists to provide guidelines about how those that are other than fully able prefer to be referred to by those that are fully able.   If that sentence seems stilted, it is, because the whole politically correct world is stilted.  We are all afraid to offend anyone.  Well, except me.  I often set out to offend a few folks, but generally I target those who I believe can handle the criticism. 

I mostly think people are too sensitive about what other people say, and especially sensitive about how they would like to be refereed.  But we can't all get what we want.  Personally, I'd like to be referred to as El Conquistador.  Unfortunately for my self-esteem, I can't get many people to buy in to my request.  Actually so far, it's only my wife, and even then only a couple times a week, late at night.

I'm not trying to offend those who have some physical or mental difference; except in a very specific subset about which I have no qualms about offending.

Apparently there is one instance when people don't mind being called handicapped, in fact must seek it out.  I'm talking of course about parking.

Except for nut jobs who somehow convince their doctor to sign a statement that their little rat dog must always be with them as an "emotional service animal", there is nothing more annoying than watching an obviously able bodied person, with a permit, pull into a handicapped parking spot, and strut into the store.

I staked out one of the local Walmart's recently just to watch the handicapped spots.  Oh my God!  I don't think I ever saw anyone that I would consider truly handicapped.  I didn't see any old and frail folks. I didn't see anyone on oxygen. I didn't see anyone using a walker, crutches, any kind of leg brace or foot accruement.  There were no wheelchairs,  no iron lungs, nothing that would meet the requirement established by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Specifically that they "cannot walk 200 feet without stopping without the aid of (an) assistance device, or oxygen".

What I saw was a lot of fat people.  Hey, I have nothing against fat people, I'm fat.  But being fat is not being handicapped - it's just being fat.

I saw a few that pretended to limp a bit, until they were clear of their car when their limps became obviously nonexistent .  I saw one guy that still had his golf shoes on.  Most of them didn't even bother to put on a show of being disabled, they just swaggered into the store with the attitude - hey, I got the permit; screw all the rest of you.

The reason this annoys me is because of my father and my wife.  My father is 85 years old and quite frail.  He refuses to use handicapped parking spots, because as he says - "I'm not handicapped".

My wife has issues with her feet.  It is very painful for her to walk, and she wears enormous boots on her feet.  At home she wears two boots. When she goes out, she wears one, on the foot that hurts the worse that day.  But she refuses to use a handicapped permit or parking spot.  As she says, she isn't handicapped.  Yet she is significantly more so than most of those who are using the handicapped parking spots. 

I’m sure there are plenty of people who do need handicapped parking spots.  I’d like to think that we have not become so self absorbed that we take up these handicapped spots simply because it is convenient and therefore clog the spots which the truly handicapped could be using.   I guess there are also lots of people like my father and my wife that probably deserve to be using these spots, but don’t consider themselves sufficiently handicapped to use them.

There isn’t much we can do about the pseudo-handicapped; except maybe try to get doctors to quit signing applications for their patients that are simply lazy.

If you are one of those people who are using a permit that really don’t need one – shame on you

Mike DiGiuro may be reached at oruigid@gmail.com