I am a pretty lucky guy when it comes to my job. I have a great job that I enjoy coming to on most days. I have pleasant, overly-competent people above me on the organizational ladder. The work I do isn’t usually stressful, and it challenges me from time to time to keep things interesting. I’ve gotten a ton of training on subjects that have helped me develop new skills and have made me a more valuable, more efficient employee. I enjoy working with those around me, partly because I’m surrounded by engineers that graduated from State, and there’s no shortage of friendly discussion about football, baseball, and sometimes basketball before the season starts and the pervasive reality of suckiness settles in. This year, though, women’s basketball has been an occasional topic of discussion in the hallways. (I did have a couple bosses that rooted for Ole Miss and LSU, but they “retired” a few months ago.) I get to park in a garage so as to not have to worry about getting wet when coming and going on rainy days. There’s a cafe and convenience store on the ground floor of my building. Most everyone I meet in the halls or on the elevator is polite and friendly, seldom missing an opportunity to say hello or good morning. The organization has been more than accommodating in regard to any needs I might have to perform my job without any unnecessary difficulty, as well.
One of the accommodations is what has my feathers fluffed today, though. I have a reserved, handicapped parking place assigned to me on the first floor of the garage right next to the elevator and the entrance to the building. That space was assigned to me because the elevator in the garage has had a sketchy service record over the years, and on the days it didn’t work and before I could park on the first floor, I’d have to roll up the ramps against the flow of traffic to get to my vehicle. Being seated, it was easy for drivers to not see me, which created a bit of a hazard for me. So, they moved me downstairs to prevent me from being flattened. My parking place also is the only one that gives me enough room to open the doors, lower the ramp, and roll out. So, you can imagine the aggravation when someone is parked in my space.
This morning, I pulled up to the gate and swiped my ID badge to gain entry to the garage and noticed a long, cream colored, 20-year-old Cadillac sitting in my space, hanging out like Jabba the Hut. It’s happened before with different people over the years, and I’m usually not all that aggravated about it. I don’t understand what part of “RESERVED” the drivers don’t understand because the sign is bolted to the wall immediately in front of the space, but that’s another issue for another day. So, I let dad out at the curb (He works on the first floor.) and looped around so that he could go grab the security guard to find the owner of the antique land yacht and get it moved.
In the meantime, I came back around and pulled into the space beside the one assigned to me to wait, and as I sat there listening to Chris Robinson crooning about being jealous again, I noticed that the Titanic didn’t have a handicapped license plate on the back, nor did it have a placard in the dash. This is where I start getting pissed usually, but I thought to myself, “It’s Monday morning. Don’t start the week off on a bad footing. Just wait and see who comes out. Maybe it’s somebody that broke their foot over the weekend and just hasn’t gotten a chance to get a temporary handicapped parking placard yet.”
Then, I see dad come back through the breezeway from the building with one of our ex-special forces, government contractor security guards that’s all laced up with nylon straps, pouches, and a multitude of Glocks, both visible and hidden. Rambo looks over in my direction, says something to dad, and then waves at the guard shack at the entrance gate on the other side of the garage. Here’s where my Zen left the county.
Across the parking garage came JOGGING to the massive pile of pissing-me-off-automobile, an off-duty policeman. I assume he was JPD, but I couldn’t tell because he was wearing a plain black coat. He did have on a hat that had POLICE stitched across the front and was wearing pants with a stripe down the side and a gun belt. This sworn protector of the public and enforcer of the laws, had pulled his road boat into a private parking garage and parked it in both a reserved and handicapped spot, for which there are commonly $250 fines and/ or towing penalties that he, as a law officer, is responsible for issuing! He waved, jumped in, called for a tugboat to guide his tanker away from the dock, and set his course for one of the several dozen empty spaces nearer the guard house where he’d been shooting the bull previously. I was then able to move over into my spot and come on up to my office like any other Monday, except for the burning rage in my core and only being 35 minutes early instead of the 45 minutes early I usually am when dad rides with me. (He’s one of those baby boomers that still thinks it requires working 10 hours to get paid for 8, and it kills him that I cut it so close to being at work on time by only being 45 minutes early.)
It’s frustrating to see folks at the grocery store pull into a blue space, get out, and stroll into the store with no apparent hindrance, but I tell myself that I don’t know their story, and I shouldn’t pass judgment on them because not all disabilities are visible. I also know that some folks are just using their grandma’s parking placard to keep from burning off that last box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch that they ate straight out of the box while drinking Budweiser and watching old reruns of The Sally Jesse Raphael Show from the bed that hasn’t had clean sheets or been made up since Guy Fieri bought his first bottle of peroxide, and they are horrible people. But when a cop or a paramedic or fireman take up the space that someone else needs just because they are feeling lazy and don’t want to spend time looking for a space further into the lot, that really burns my Benton’s.
***This is not to be taken as a commentary on blue lives matter or about me hating the police. This is about an individual that should know better than to do what he did.