Last week, I was having pain issues, so used the handicapped parking spot. A guy (we will call him Concern Troll, because he was SO CONCERNED that I might be gaming the system) came up to me as I got out of the car.
Concern Troll: You can’t park there! Only people with handicaps can park there!
Me (reaching back into the car to pull off the handicap placard to show him): You mean, like this?
Concern Troll: But how do I know you aren’t faking it just to get a better spot? I read an article about it online somewhere, that people are getting fake handicapped placards!
Me: Sorry, forgot to wear my Team Faking It jacket today
Concern Troll: Errr…
Me: Well, then I guess you gotta take my word for it.
I don’t necessarily look like I would need a handicapped placard. Most of the time I don’t. But if I am having bad pain flares and my choice is between a handicapped spot or walking some further distance in excruciating pain, I will use the handicapped placard. No, I don’t use it if there is a regular open spot next to the handicapped spot. But there are days when I have no choice.
So this notion that I must be faking my pain because I don’t fit people’s idea of what pain sufferers are supposed to look like just…baffles me. Yes, I have the tattoo, piercings, and anime!hair (currently purple and fuchsia streaks). I am far more likely to be seen in geeky t-shirt, leggings, and my beloved purple, floral, satin brocade Chucks than in business clothing (one of the MANY advantages of working for myself). Does that somehow scream “TOTALLY FAKING THE AGONIZING PAIN FLARES!!!” What should I have worn to alert Concern Troll that I actually had a legitimate need for that placard?
Here’s the thing. The only people who get a legitimate say in whether or not I qualify for a handicapped placard are my doctor and the DMV. Since they seem to have taken my word for it, the fact that Concern Troll thinks otherwise really bothers me less than it might otherwise.
And really, it was *just a parking space.* I was not robbing a bank or kicking puppies. I was simply parking my car. Surely there are bigger issues with which to be concerned than whether or not I can park my car in a handicapped spot?
Pain doesn’t have specific identifying features that make it easy to spot. Neither do I.