I stand in the line every two years.
In the State of Tennessee, if you have a ‘disabled parking placard’ for your car, you have to show up in person to have it renewed.
I never got one until my orthopedic doctor here said, “Why don’t you have one? Don’t you get soaked when it rains and you have to walk in somewhere?”
Well, I can’t walk inside fast, if that’s what you mean.
“You don’t need to be walking from one end of a parking lot to the door when it’s icy, and you only rely on one foot for nuanced balance.”
I’m really good at nuanced balance.
“What about the days when your knee is hurting and you’re already limping?”
Fine. Just give me the stupid form.
Truthfully, I don’t use the special parking very often. It’s still a little embarrassing.
My brother once said, “Belinda, why not you? Do you realize what all you go through? Take the stupid parking space.”
My Mom agreed.
Today was the day I had to renew. It was a short line (I can’t do long lines so I was grateful.)
When I got up to the window, I handed the lovely woman my updated form and the cash.
She took it, reviewed it, and looked up at me with a smile.
“You don’t look disabled. I saw you in line, and I never would’ve guessed you were here for this.”
Then she said, “I hope you don’t feel disabled, either. You’re beautiful, and don’t let anyone ever make you think differently.”
I know, I know.
We could have a whole conversation about her perception of people with disabilities and blah, blah, blah, but she was being sincerely kind.
As imperfect and complicated and potentially triggering her initial comment was, I choose to not only accept her kindness, but celebrate it.
Life is hard.
Language is complicated.
Pay attention to heart of the matter.