Veteran in wheelchair parks at far end of shopping center when able bodied woman took the last disabled spot

Lefty Graves
Disabled parking spot permit required.Photo bySteve DiMatteoonUnsplash

** This article is based on nonfiction by actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.

As a teenager, my friends and I spent a lot of time at the local shopping mall. One sunny afternoon we were walking around in the parking lot looking for our car when a man with a disabled tag and a woman without a disabled tag attempted to park in the same spot. The woman, without a disabled tag, won.

As we silently observed this, the woman hopped out of her car and skipped into the shopping mall. Meanwhile, the man with the disabled tag parked at the far end of the row, where there were several open spaces. He then maneuvered a wheelchair out of his vehicle and proceeded to get into the wheelchair.

My friends and I were pretty upset, and we went to offer the man some assistance. He told us that it was okay he could use the exercise. He said it was okay, that the lady probably was in a hurry. We felt pretty bad for him, so after he wheeled away to go into the shopping mall, we went and gathered the license plate number from the lady’s car and reported it to security.

Security came out, ticketed the car, and placed a ‘boot’ on the car. By this point in time, we were silent observers. We wanted to see the lady’s reaction when she saw her car. So we moved our car closer to the area where she had parked, and we waited.

She finally returned, and security immediately descended upon her and told her that they would be towing her car. She also had a hefty ticket to pay. She didn’t have any kind of a disabled permit at all. I realize that not all disabilities are visible, but this woman had clearly displayed that she didn’t have any disability when she went skipping into the shopping mall. What would you have done? Would you have turned the woman in?

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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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