Yesterday, we pulled into the handicapped parking space at a local store.  Next to us was a big honking pickup truck, parked RIGHT ON THE LINE between the two spaces.  Now as those of you who read this know, I'm handicapped by RA and lupus.  I opened my door and apparently it hit his truck.  HE SCREAMED AT ME to watch my door.  I pointed out that he was right on the line and I am handicapped.  So he repeated his scream, adding an expletive before "door." You know the one that rhymes with "BIG HONKING TRUCK." 

I mention that the man was Hispanic only because, from where I sit, my observational data is that Hispanic men seem to have both (1) a higher predilection for verbally abusing women, and (2) an intense devotion to their rides.  I would hate to think they also have a higher rate of abusing the handicapped.  Only ONCE in my entire life has any Black man spoken to me the way this man did, and he was drunk and angry (See my page on Talking About Race).  NEVER has any Asian man of any nationality or ethnicity spoken like that, although some of the Near Eastern Asian men have talked down to me, like I was stupid, which I find equally off-putting in a different way.  As to white men, the only ones who ever yelled epithets were drunk, or, oddly enough, guys who made passes at me and were rebuffed, or construction workers who catcalled and I shot the bird. The latter two cases I assume were injured pride.  Nor do I think that Hispanic men, percentage wise, are any more sexist than other men of any color.  I think they are simply more open about expressing it. in such a manner as this man did.  However, this is not the point of my blog today.

Two things that bother me about this encounter are (1) failure to acknowledge that his own parking right on the dividing line between the two spaces contributed to the problem, and maturity alone should have dampened his enthusiasm for cursing out a handicapped person.  Since this man was probably in his late 40s or in his 50s, judging from the grey in his hair and his facial wrinkle, I would suggest that if he were concerned about his truck being dinged, he might have parked it farther out in the parking lot  where nobody was likely to ding it.  Second, while I understand that dings and scratches promote rusting of vehicle bodies (or did when they were metal rather than plastic or fiberglass), it's also a fact that one's vehicle is probably going to get dings, dents, scratches during it's lifetime.  Ours certainly does.  We fix them ourselves as a matter of routine maintenance.  Even when actually witnessed a couple allow their  metal shopping cart to escape and roll into our car, I accepted this as a normal part of life.  They were coping with two small children and had that on their mind.  Similarly, once I open the door, I engage in the task of getting myself out of the car.  This usually requires both hands because I often have to lift that stiff knee to get it out past the door.  Such was the case today.  I'm not sure whether the door hit his truck when I first opened it, or doing the process of climbing out of the car, and picking up my shopping bag from the floor of the vehicle.  I actually wasn't aware that it had until he started screaming at me.  That suggests to me that it didn't hit with much force, or the sound certainly would have drawn my attention.  My question is this?  What makes, to any rational adult, a dinged vehicle (and I did not see any damage when I looked)  important enough to verbally abuse another person, particularly a handicapped one?

I satisfied myself with not pointing out that he was parked right on the line and that I was handicapped, but firing off a string of insulting epithets in Spanish.  I was not going to stand there and take his abuse.  I hope it makes him think twice before repeating such behavior.  Next time I hope he parks his precious honking truck (ugly as it was) on the far margins of the lot.  Better yet, I hope he grows the heck up.
 


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