Accessible parking spots, marked with the internationally recognized blue wheelchair symbol, exist for a specific reason – to provide convenience and equal access to individuals with disabilities.
The word “disability” tends to evoke images of someone in a wheelchair or someone who requires crutches or a cane. But this isn’t always the case.
Not all disabilities are visible, but it doesn’t make them any less real.
A Man’s Car Is Vandalized After He Parks in an Accessible Parking Spot
Reynaldo Ortiz from Aurora, Illinois was just trying to do a little grocery shopping when his trip to the supermarket turned into a nightmare.
Ortiz, who has had six knee surgeries and a hip surgery, parked in one of the store’s handicapped spots. It’s important to note that he does have a handicapped parking permit.
“I get out of the car and I start walking into the store and I hear a bunch of people yelling, and I turn around to see, what are they yelling at? Turns out it was me,” Ortiz told CBS2.
The bystanders told him that he didn’t “look” handicapped and questioned why he was parking there.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time that Ortiz had been accused of misusing the parking space. Not wanting a confrontation, he ignored them and continued into the store.
However, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong so he turned around and headed back to his car.
It turns out his spidey senses were right. Lo and behold, a man was in the midst of keying his entire car.
“Something told me ‘You need to go back and check,’” Ortiz said. “I went back outside and I see the guy going around my car keying it and taking pictures of it.”
The perpetrator immediately got into his vehicle and took off, with Ortiz in hot pursuit. Ortiz followed the man and called the Aurora police.
The man confessed to keying Ortiz’s car, causing over $4,000 in damages. Police charged him with criminal vandalism.
Not All Disabilities Are Visible
Just because someone doesn’t use a wheelchair or require assistance walking doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to accessible parking.
Many people suffer from invisible disabilities, including chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, life-limiting illnesses, and more. All of which can take a devastating toll and significantly impact a person’s ability to perform daily tasks.
So often, we assume that disabilities have to be visible to be valid. However, this is not only hurtful but can also result in physical and psychological harm to individuals who are already dealing with the challenges of their conditions.
In the end, Ortiz just hopes that his experience will give people pause before they jump to damaging conclusions.
“Have some compassion. Just let people be.”
He’s not wrong. It doesn’t cost anything to show empathy and compassion towards one another. The reality is, that appearances are often deceiving. We very rarely ever get a full panoramic view of someone’s life, particularly a stranger’s.
We have no idea what someone may be dealing with, or what invisible disabilities they may be battling.
But what we do know is that a little kindness, empathy, and compassion can go a long way in making the world a more inclusive and supportive place.
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