Some of you may already know this, but for those of you that don't, I'll let you know a little bit about my family. My family is very important to me, and I'm very close to them. I'm fortunate enough to have a great relationship with my parents, and as much as they've supported me throughout the years, I think the least I can do is help them out once in a while. My dad had a stroke 3 years ago, which left him unable to do all the things he used to do. He is in his 70s and now walks with a cane or walker, and he can no longer drive. It's very hard for him to leave the house, so whenever he does, it's a huge production. It didn't matter that I was very tired from a busy weekend out of town and went straight into a hectic work week. My dad told me he needed me to pick him up after work today to take him on some errands. No problem. Well, at about 5:15 pm today, we pulled into the parking lot of his local Bank of America. No surprise that there was a long line for the ATMs. It's Friday afternoon, so all those people are like how I used to be, hankering for some cash to spend over the weekend. However, I was annoyed. Why? Those people were standing in the handicapped parking space! I tried to do the polite thing, not honking but looking some of them in the eye and waving to the side, hoping they'd get the message. Either they didn't, or they didn't care. I gave up and parked the car to the side. I told my dad to wait while I went inside to tell the first employee I saw that my dad is disabled, has a hard time walking, and needs the handicapped parking space, but there were people in it. Thank God the BofA employee decided to be helpful. He immediately went outside and politely asked the customers to move out of the way. When I finally parked and helped my dad inside, with him holding onto my arm with his left hand and with the cane in his right, a lady at the front of the line gasped and immediately apologized profusely. I just nodded my head and told her it was OK. The employee who helped us out held the door and told my dad to go straight to the short merchant teller line (for those of you who would like to argue that it's just for business owners, it also happens to be that my dad co-owns a business with a checking account at BofA). If no one had bothered to help, I'd be tempted to instruct my dad to take all his money out of there. But I'm grateful someone did.
It didn't used to be that I cared so much. This being LA, I likely have gone into parking lots to find all spaces taken, except for that one right by the front door. In order to make it more convenient, I probably did pull into the handicapped space and told my friend or family member in the car to wait "while I did this real quick" and "If you see a cop, just move the car". However, most of the time, the cop doesn't come, and most people never move the car, even if they see an elderly person in a wheelchair with the blue placard who has the legal right to be there. I can't tell you how many times I have seen this happen. My dad, who really does have a hard time walking, really does need the space. And unless they're about to be ticketed, people don't care. It's not an even playing field. Please have consideration of others. If even one person stops to think about this for a moment, it can make a difference. I just think about that lady at the bank who apologized to me. Just her words, her being considerate made me less angry, which helped me to be less stressed and a better caregiver to my dad.