Dear lady at Costco today:
You muttered “looks like everyone can get a handicapped card these days” as you walked past me with an aged companion heading into the store. I didn’t respond for several reasons, so I’m taking a minute to do so now.
First, the handicapped pass on our car isn’t for me. Yes, I have good working legs, most days. I don’t have a massive disability, and I’m grateful every day for that. The pass is for my son.
You see, he’s a special needs kid. He looks neurotypical and he’s big for his age so he looks older, but he has a valid disability. He was safely strapped into his car seat in the car and you didn’t get to see some of the behaviours that prompted us to get a handicapped pass.
You didn’t see him bolt out into the parking lot in front of moving cars.
You didn’t see him have a massive meltdown because there were too many people around him or it was too loud. You didn’t know that meant we had to leave RIGHT NOW!
You didn’t see him put his younger siblings in a dangerous situation because I had to deal with his meltdown and try to wrangle them at the same time.
You didn’t see any of that.
All you saw was me, struggling to put the groceries in the car through my own difficult day, complete with chest pain, shortness of breath, and a stress level so high it’s amazing I can breath at all.
Since you were coming from your own car also parked in a handicapped spot, I’m sure you’re aware that a medical professional has to sign off on a handicapped card. The DMV doesn’t hand them out like candy. I didn’t walk into the doctor’s office and whine about how difficult life is with 3 little kids and they filled out the paperwork because of sympathy.
No, my son’s pediatrician knows what life is like for us. He knows that my child is a hazard to himself and others. He knows that having a really short distance to get him to the car versus a long walk can mean the difference of life and death. He knows.
The next time you decide to judge someone based on what you see, I hope you think about this. Because there are a lot of people out there with invisible disabilities. More than you think.