Playing That Card

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If you’ve met me, you know I’m highly unlikely to ever play the “disability card.” This is what friends and I have coined as the privledges I may get to go to the front of the line due to having a disability, or having a handicapped hang tag for the car, etc. Every once in a while, a situation calls for taking advantage of this privledge, but for the most part, I try to keep my blindness as a non-issue.

Well, yesterday was a day to end all days. My lovely wife and I went to the DMV to get a handicapped hang tag. It’s rare that we’d use it, and definitely not when there’s not ample handicapped parking, but like I said before, certain times call for it. You know the DMV-outdated equipment, idiotic workers, bureaucratic nightmare…ya know, typical government.

Let me give you a couple of examples why I, a blind guy who doesn’t drive/own a car/have bodily disabilities, would desire a hang tag. First, much of it is due to Carson, my Seeing Eye dog. Parking lots are dangerous places. No sidewalks, cars flowing every which way, people paying attention to the closest empty space-NOT the people walking around. Plus, it’s Florida, it’s hot, and the pavement can burn the skin off a dog’s feet if you don’t watch out. If I’m in winter somewhere else, the more I can minimize the chemicals and salts put down for ice, the better the health of Carson(dogs DO like to lick their feet, ya know?) If it’s raining, while strapping on C’s harness, I’m out in it a lot longer AND I can’t just make a sprint for the closest entrance. 90% of the time, I’m carrying my laptop and rain and electronics don’t mix. So, again, will I use the hang tag? In certain situations, yes. But c’mon…I’m not the guy who’ll abuse that courtesy.

Still, at the DMV yesterday, I was made to feel like I was trying to crack into Fort Knox. The state of FL offers an additional hang tag if you have multiple vehicles, etc. Of course, I do a lot of travelling and would like to take a hang tag with me when I go. If it’s raining some tropical depression and we park in handicapped when leaving Orlando, I’d like to be able to park in handicapped when I reach Detroit in January and there’s salt all over the parking lot. To do this, it was pointed out by the DMV worker that I don’t drive and I don’t own a car(never mind the fact I’m there with my wife and she does both). The DMV worker then whips out an affidavit I must sign multiple times. It says I swear that I travel at least four times per month. Fair enough. I sign. Then comes the lecture.

If my wife and I park at a store in handicapped parking, I must, MUST get out of the car. No one can park in handicapped unless I’m with them. Even to just run in the store ffor a few minutes, no one can do it.

To this I say, “Duh!”

I understand there is something a little odd about a blind guy who doesn’t drive nor own a car applying for a hang tag. On first glance, it appears futile. But DMV workers deal with this every day. I don’t like getting the evil eye as if I’m trying to pull one over on the state. Please. If I was going to try to fleece someone, I’d find a better way to do it.

We can place the blame on the bureaucratic nature of government, on the oddity of a blind dude with a handicapped hang tag or solely at the feet of the woman who waited on us. Either way, the stereotypical DMV experience lives on.

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