I have a square, blue card in the window of my minivan that is boldly imprinted with a big white wheelchair, the international insignia for disabled.

It is a magical piece of paper that allows us the privilege to park in disabled parking spaces, not only in Switzerland but also in member states of the International Transport Forum (ITF). 

This means that our card is also recognized throughout the EU and EEA, along with USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Korea.

The card isn’t free. We paid a fee for it. 

We had to apply for it and our doctor had to write an attestation letter that we would need it for the long-term, which in our country means at least five years.

The parking spots are almost always near the entrance to our destination, but that doesn’t give you the right to park in this spot on a rainy day because you forgot your umbrella. 

And yes, I see you are wearing designer stilettos and the weather is not favourable but that still isn’t an excuse.

The parking spaces are wide and spacious—perfect for your big, fat SUV, but that doesn’t give you the right to park in the space because the other spots are too narrow.

Sometimes the spots are double-wide, but that does not mean that you can tag along without a special parking permit and take that extra ‘wasted’ space next to my van with your compact car. 

The spaces are wide for a reason, often so that a ramp can be used or to ease the transfer from wheelchair to the car. 

I’m sorry that I had to have your license plate number called out in the shopping centre and it embarrassed you, but I couldn’t get my daughter into the car, since you tried to share our spot with us.

The spots are often sitting empty, ready and waiting for a privileged permit holder, yes this is a luxury, but a necessary one. 

The privilege to park in a disabled space often comes with a lifetime of health struggles, challenges, and inconveniences. 

Getting out of the car is sometimes a thirty-minute ordeal for a person with disability. 

Please don’t take the parking spot ‘while you just run in for a minute’.

I know that you didn’t take the parking spot maliciously, you do it sometimes without thinking. 

Perhaps in your stress because you are late, you fail to even notice the huge wheelchair insignia painted on the asphalt and the big ‘disabled parking only’ sign at the front of the parking slot.

I know you didn’t take the parking spot so that I am personally inconvenienced. 

You were too busy talking on your mobile phone to think that far ahead, but by taking the spot, you have forced me to park in a remote lot with my wheelchair-bound child. 

The temperature is in the negative digits today, and all I can think about is that I need to get my daughter from the parking lot into the building as fast as I can before she starts having breathing problems. 

But first I need to fit into a narrow parking spot, that isn’t wide enough for an easy transfer from the car seat to wheelchair.

I’m not sorry that I left you a note on your windshield reminding you that you are illegally parked in a spot that is exclusively for holders of a disabled parking permit.

I hope this note makes you think twice before you park in a such a spot again. 

Thanks for your attention. 

Signed,

A special needs mom on a mission.

 

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