Recently at Trader Joe's, a car ahead of me pulled into the last handicap spot. I idled behind and watched as a gray-haired man stepped out and strode into the store. No cane, no limp.
It’s not the first time I’ve done this – hovered to judge a person who has snaked a parking space from under my nose. I have turned into a parking lot stalker. I never used to be this way. I used to pull around those waiting for a close spot to be vacated when plenty of open spaces were on offer at the end of the lot. I judged them as lazy and delighted in my willingness to exercise.
Inside Trader Joe's, I looked for the gray-haired man in the blue jeans and lumberjack shirt, rehearsing what to say to him. "Hello, you took the last handicap spot." Surely I would not need to say anything more. One look at my cane and brace would say it all: I deserved that space more than you did.
I decided not to confront him just before I spotted him cruising toward the cashier with his few items. Who was I to judge his need? Perhaps he has some invisible disability that's troublesome when he's tired. I decided it was not worth the risk of being that most offensive of combinations: both righteous and wrong.
After all, I had found a suitable space in the next aisle only 20 yards along. And I was perfectly capable of walking that extra distance. In fact, I probably benefited from the exercise.