I’ve noticed a lot of motorcyclists parking in the striped area at the end of a parking line or next to a handicap parking spot. In Texarkana this is a common practice, and I have yet to see or hear about anybody being ticketed for it. I’ve indulged in this myself several times, always being sure that I wasn’t blocking somebody. I was especially careful if it was next to a handicap space, being sure that any vehicle in that spot had ample room to load or disembark wheelchairs.
But even with everybody else doing it, and despite my efforts to be considerate, it still didn’t feel right. For one thing, I’m sure it’s against the law. For another, I may have trouble with my insurance company if I’m ever hit by another vehicle while parked, illegally, in a stripped spot.
The point was really brought home to me about a month ago when I headed to a local big chain store. As I parked in a stripped area at the end of a line and headed for the store, I noticed a vehicle parked in the stripped area next to a handicap spot. But this wasn’t a motorcycle. It was a minivan. It looked so funny sitting there, I grabbed my cell phone and took a photo. That’s when I heard an angry, “Hey!” I hadn’t noticed the driver still sitting in the van.
“I am handicapped,” I heard him assert. I just waved and went on into the store. My purchases complete I left by the same door headed for my bike, only to discover the driver now standing outside the van waiting for me to emerge. As he pointed an accusing finger in my direction, I heard him tell a passerby, “That (expletive deleted) took my picture!”
Very little of what followed is printable in this, or any family oriented, publication. The gist of it was he believed, by taking the photo, I was accusing him of wrongdoing, and that his disability justified his actions.
Without stopping, I assured him that I was not with law enforcement and had only taken the photo because it was an amusing sight. Unfortunately this didn’t satisfy him and as I loaded up and put on my helmet, he grabbed a shopping cart with one hand and his cane with the other and headed my way. His slow and unsteady progress gave both tribute to the severity of his disability, and hope to me of making an escape before his arrival. Alas, recalcitrant buckles on my saddlebags and helmet delayed my departure just long enough for the aggrieved party to arrive.
Through a blizzard of profanity, it was explained to me I was a narrow minded bigot, and he was actually doing me a favor. It was also suggested I do things with parts of my anatomy that I don’t believe were actually physically possible.
Keeping an eye on the cane to be sure it continued to be used as a tool of locomotion, and not a weapon, I tried to again explain that I had no legal authority, and had only snapped the photo because it was an unusual and amusing sight. As before, this did nothing to assuage his anger.
To avoid the necessity of explaining to friends how I’d been beaten up by a crippled guy, I decided to practice the better part of valor. I cranked up the bike and hauled my narrow-minded, bigoted tuckus out of there. I watched my mirrors to see if he’d try to get back to his van and give chase. He didn’t. The last time I saw him, he was still standing where I left him, making gestures in my direction that I would not describe as conciliatory.
I park in the regular spaces now. It’s less dangerous.