Handicap. I don’t think so.

Yesterday I woke up to take the dog out for his morning walk. We headed down the corner near his favorite spot, and as he was doing his business, I noticed a fairly overweight man in one of those handicap scooters. This man proceeded to park his scooter right outside a candy store. Then, much to my chagrin, he got up, walked into the store, bought his lottery tickets and got right back on his scooter and took off.

For years, I have maintained a suspicious sentiment toward some “handicapped” individuals. Years ago I used to take the cross town bus to work. This bus ride, which normally takes fifteen minutes at most, sometimes took forty and even sixty minutes. That’s because the driver often had to pick up wheelchair bound individuals. And you know how long it takes to get a wheelchair on and off a bus. Imagine when there are two or three handicap people getting off and on before you have even arrived at your own destination? It was frustrating. Now before you all grab your tar and feathers let me enlighten you on my history with handicap privileges.

Many, many years ago, a patient had a “bad back” and asked if I would fill out a form so that he could get a handicap sticker for his car so that he could park in the handicap zone. “But you’re not handicapped,” I said.

“Yeah, but then I get to drive right up to the Wal-Mart or Duane Reed, and I don’t have to look for a spot.”

Another time, a patient asked if I would fill out disability form so that he could stay home from work because he was HIV positive. “But having HIV is no longer considered a disability unless you have an opportunitstic infection or a disability.”

“Yeah, but everyone else does it.”

Then at a party, a loud mouth drunk guy started to regale everyone about a recent trip to a theme park. He said, “I took my father’s handicap sticker and brought it to Great Adventure. We didn’t have to wait on any lines. It was great.”

Is that what this world is coming to: feigning disabilities, staying home on workman’s compensation or lying to get food stamps and welfare?

So now you can understand why I’ve become quite suspicious of the handicap. Of course, I can tell when someonr really is debilitated. Paralyzed individuals usually have lower extremities that are often wasted with thin, flaccid limbs because of lack of use. Rarely, would a paralyzed person have thick muscular or fat lower extremities. But it’s not always the fault of these con people who persuade their doctor into fudging forms or signing off on permits. It’s these horrible doctors who allow these individuals to cheat the system in order to get coverage for scooters they don’t need or handicap parking stickers they shouldn’t have.

One day I was riding on the cross town bus and I saw this man get on in a wheelchair. He was moving his legs to scoot himself into a spot on the bus assigned for the handicap. I was sitting very close by. I must have given him the dirtiest look because he stared right back at me. And in those few seconds as we stared each other down, I thought to myself, “You don’t need to be in that chair.” Of course, I never said that.

I was raised to take pity on the handicap. As a doctor, I see them as courageous individuals, living independently in the city and these few benefits they are allowed with scooters or parking spots are in no way a replacement for the very thing they want most in life and that is to have full use of their limbs. So it bothers me right down to my very core to see someone cheat the system by feigning a disability.

So if you have a handicap sticker or scooter and you’re not handicap, be very careful if you ride the bus with me.


One Comment

  1. Mich
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Once again your veiled (or not so veiled) reference to my unusual predicaments are poorly constructed. My handicap parking sticker is for my emotional not merely physical disabilities!

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