Handicapped Parking

Let there be no question, this guy was in a hurry.

He whipped into the parking place nearest the entrance of Harris Teeter, jumped out of his luxury SUV, flung the driver’s door shut and strode majestically into the store.

He had parked in a space reserved for handicapped drivers. It was well-marked with the wheelchair logo painted on a blue field on the pavement plus a sign on a post. It was the last remaining handicapped space available.

The problem was, no handicapped parking permit was visible anywhere in or on his car.

I don’t know what the man’s urgent errand was and don’t need to know. That’s his business.

But that he apparently thinks that it’s OK to cheat a disabled driver out of a parking space near the entrance of a public building should concern all of us. Someone I know well has been disabled since childhood. She needs a cane or crutches to walk. She is entitled to use her handicapped parking permit.

Sometimes she must settle for a more distant space because all of the handicapped spaces are full. Let’s hope that those drivers have legitimate parking permits.

The time was, I would confront drivers who parked illegally in handicapped spaces, but I have grown tired of their profanity-laced responses. Some simply laugh, point to their heads and make a comment like, “It’s OK. I am handicapped . . . up here!”

Do they actually think that’s funny?

To those who park where they shouldn’t, here’s a suggestion:

Be thankful that you are not entitled to park in that convenient spot, that you are able-bodied and could easily tolerate a longer walk to the front door.

Leave the handicapped parking spaces for those who truly need them.

This is Raleigh Mann.


Turning, Voting, & Smart Service

In the aftermath of the recent election, I found myself struggling to find a new topic.  I’d written in support of the defeat of Amendment One and in the aftermath of its passage, all topics I considered seemed overwhelmingly mundane.  

I’d been noodling on one in particular and often dismissing it when I heard a segment of The Commentators on WCHL that brought up the exact topic:  turn signals.  Commentator Raleigh Mann suggests many cars today must be built without them since so many cars aren’t using them (to hear the original, click here and scroll down to Raleigh Mann’s May 29th presentation).

My version of his lament is in parking lots.  While drivers may be operating at a slow enough speed to react in time to prevent a collision, there are few other places where drivers have choices as varied as in a parking lot.  Is the car nearby heading left, sort of left, straight, right into a nearby spot, right ahead at the next parking lane?  There’s a lot for the other guy to figure out.  

There’s also a lot to watch out for with small children often hidden behind shopping carts (and bigger people!).

There are very few saints behind the wheel and I’m not setting myself up as one so this message is a reminder for me as well.  Safely and politely signaling your intentions while driving costs us nothing (this point is how I justify this topic in a column on spending!) and can make a big difference even if it’s only in relieving daily aggravation.

Now to a bit of a grab bag:

  • As the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan heads to Town Council, many people have been thanked and rightly so.  But everyone who either lives, works, or plays in Chapel Hill owes a major thank you to co-chairs Rosemary Waldorf and George Cianciolo for the countless hours of hard work they donated to all of us.  Further, many of the town staff worked a spectacular number of hours in between all of the public meetings.  We owe them our gratitude. 
  • The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district’s recent decision to create a magnet school at Frank Porter Graham Elementary was difficult, divisive, and brave.  I do not have a child enrolled in FPG nor will I, so I sit on neither side of this issue.  As a parent of a school-age child, I am absolutely passionate about his school so I empathize with those who fought to protect FPG as it is.  However, the elected school board members did something many in Washington seem unable to do: vote their conscience regardless of the political repercussions.  Wonder if any of those politicians have the stomach for higher office?
  • Finally, my never-ending quest to find good customer service came in a conversation with a Cary furniture store.  In dealing with the need to procure a sleeper sofa in time for a relative’s visit, I explained my relatively short timetable (a few weeks but that’s miniscule) in furniture time and the salesperson at Nowell’s turned me away.  That’s right: in this economy, in that business, he turned me away, saying he couldn’t guarantee the sleeper on our schedule.  The store earned nothing from me that day but it will one day thanks to that honesty.