When a little violation isn#8217;t so little

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2007

The little red sports car was glimmering in the summer sun.

The white-raised letters on the black tires were attractive and the convertible top was down. It was a fine piece of machinery.

Then my father snapped the radio antennae in two like a twig.

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It was several years ago when he was alive and he did it as he wheeled past it in his wheelchair. I suppose the frustration of the able-bodied person parking in the handicap space outweighed his concern for violating the law.

Now, my father - who had polio — was a likable guy and was never the kind of man who felt sorry for himself. He accepted the circumstances of his life, dealt with them courageously and left this world with many friends and a family that loved him deeply.

I thought about him this week when I read an article about cities and states cracking down harder on people who park in handicap parking spaces. The fines and penalties for those who illegally park in the spots have increased in some places and I’m glad.

Maybe others have a different perspective than I do, but disabled persons need the extra width of a handicap space. I know.

Some people need the space to accommodate a wheelchair lift. Some people need it to get into a wheelchair. For some disabled people, what may seem like a routine trip inside can actually be quite painful.

But beyond their need for the space, what aggravates me is the lack of need of the space by non-disabled persons. Really, how lazy is a person who would take a handicap space away from someone just so they can be a few feet closer?

It’s pitiful really.

Although my father never complained, was an upbeat individual and was lucky in many ways, I just wish he had been seen by others for what he was. We often hear about how people are discriminated against in this country because of gender, race, religion and other traits and personal choices.

But handicapped individuals are often not as much of the discussion as they should be. Except for those who knew him, I don’t believe people gave my father the credit he deserved.

He was a smart, loving, resourceful man who provided for his family, but was underestimated and sometimes disrespected because of his physical handicap.

I can’t help but think there are many disabled people like my father who have a lot more to offer than people realize. And, at the very least, they ought to be able to get out of their vehicle when they try to enter a building.

And for those who disagree, keep in mind you never know who might be looking at your antennaes.

Rick Greene is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12, or by e-mail at rick.greene@irontontribune.com.