DEAR ABBY: I suffered a serious accident at work and have endured numerous surgeries, with another on the horizon. Because the injuries are in the cervical and lumbar areas, they are not visible.
Last week, I parked my car in a handicapped spot in the supermarket parking lot. Having a proper tag on my license plate, I didn’t think twice about it. As I entered the store, a woman who had parked nearby started shouting at me, saying I shouldn’t have parked where I did. I indicated she should read my plate, to which she then replied that I was “phony” for taking advantage of the system. I imagine she thought this because I was walking unaided that day.
Abby, please inform your readers that not all injuries are visible and not to assume that someone is taking advantage because he or she doesn’t meet your expectations of how a disabled person “should” appear. — Hurting in Northern California
DEAR HURTING: Gladly. This subject has appeared in my column before. You are correct that not all disabilities are visible. One that comes to mind would be a heart problem that prevents a patient from walking long distances. Another would be multiple sclerosis.
Readers, if you are concerned that someone is gaming the system, rather than confront the person, write down the license number of the car with the handicap plate and inform the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are correct, the authorities will be interested in that information. And if you are not, you won’t have caused someone who already has problems additional distress.
A shawl situation
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to “Gilbert” for more than 30 years. We have always managed to resolve our differences in a relatively short time, but this time I’m not too sure.
Our son was married last weekend, and because we’re of Celtic heritage, I chose to wear a beautiful dress from Ireland. Because it has short sleeves I brought a shawl to keep warm. When I asked my husband why he never said I looked nice, he replied he didn’t know whether I looked nice because he “couldn’t see me under that damned blanket!”
I was stunned. I wore the shawl only when I was near the door because it was cold there. I danced with him and several others many times and didn’t have it on then. I must have told Gil at least 20 times how handsome he looked, and so did everyone else. The shawl may have been a little big on me because I am only 5 feet tall and weigh 95 pounds. But I didn’t think I looked hideous.
I’m hurt over his remark, and we haven’t really spoken for several days. What can I do to get past this awful feeling that we’re going in opposite directions? — Offended in the East
DEAR OFFENDED: A good beginning would be to ask your husband why he made such a mean-spirited remark. He owes you an apology for his tactlessness.
If he really hadn’t thought you were dressed appropriately for your son’s wedding, he should have mentioned it before you left the house so you could change if you wished. Slamming you afterward wasn’t helpful, and your hurt feelings are understandable.
But unless you have other reasons for worrying that you might be headed “in opposite directions,” don’t let this be blown out of proportion.