I love my disabled parking placard. Of course I wish I didn’t need it, but I’m realistic. It makes my life much easier. Never mind the accessible handicap spots. Did you know you don’t EVER have to pay a meter if you have one of these magical plastic things?
Contain your envy.
But it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to obtain my new blue friend, and that is because the DMV was involved.
I assume that nearly everyone reading this has been to the DMV at some point, and I also assume that exactly none of you enjoyed it. This is not a slam on anyone who works at the DMV. It’s just not a very enjoyable place.
I arrived early one morning, back when I could still walk unassisted, but things were getting tougher. Parking closer to wherever I was going would be a huge help. The irony of going to the DMV to get a handicap placard is that you have to park kind of far away. So it felt like a long walk to get into the building, where I waited in line for half an hour, only to be told that my doctor had given me an outdated form and I would have to come back with the correct one. The difference between the forms, other than the tiny date at the bottom, was not clear.
DMV: 1 Sarah: 0
I went to a different doctor and got the correct form. On another fine morning in San Francisco, I set out to once again breathe the stale DMV air. This time I had to park even further away, because even though no one really wants to be at the DMV, it is constantly packed with people, with a line snaking around the corner, as though it is the hottest new restaurant in town. I would never eat there.
I waited in line. When I got to the front, a rather stern woman looked at my form, and said, “We can’t take this. This part is scratched out.” The new doctor had started writing the wrong date, and then scratched it out to correct it, something I hadn’t noticed, but also didn’t think was a big deal. I reasoned. I pleaded. I asked to speak to a supervisor. “I AM the supervisor,” she said, her voice rising. “Also, you might want to have them spell THIS part out, cause I don’t think anyone here is going to know what ALS is.”
How nice for them.
DMV: 2 Sarah: annoyed
I got the form corrected. Then it was back to the DMV. This time I made it through the first line, and was given a number and told to sit with all the other sad people, several of whom clearly had the flu.
2 hours passed, and then I had to leave because it was time to pick up Scarlett at preschool.
DMV: 3 Sarah: the idiot who didn’t make an appointment
I tried again, more than a month having passed since my first attempt. Driving was still going fine, but walking not so much. I used a hiking stick and ankle braces and made my way through the crowd, armed with the correct, scratch-free form, and an actual appointment. And I left, 45 minutes later, clutching my prize.
DMV: wins Sarah: pretty much just back at 0
It was hard at first, adjusting to the placard. It seemed like a big announcement that I was, in fact, disabled. I wanted to hide it, not display it on my rearview mirror.
Now I haven’t driven in more than a year. It’s important to me to make things easier, not only for myself, but for the people who help me every day. And the parking placard does that. So I’ve become a fan. Especially because each year, the DMV just sends me a new one and I never have to go back there again.
However, the following must be said, and I believe this is what is referred to as the Bargaining Stage: if my ALS goes away, I will eat dinner once a week at the DMV.