Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Curb Your Cadillac

Ok, enough poetry. I have got to stop getting into fights with old people. I don't mean to, of course. I'm not the fighting type, but I just keep making old people mad.

Living in South Florida means dealing with a lot of old people. Mostly they're rich, old white people from New York who come down here for the winter or who have retired here permanently. We have special communities for them all to gather where no children are allowed and there are senior centers and senior clubs and senior discounts everywhere. South Florida is very friendly to the elderly. Sometimes the elderly are just not very friendly to the rest of us.

A lot of times I know exactly where they're coming from. I know how annoying people can be and after 70 something years of dealing with other human beings I guess you'd get sick of people's crap. But then I think, these old people are lucky, privileged old people who came from a generation that did a lot of mean, wrong things and they liked that world and are pissed that it's not still that way for them.

Everyone down here complains about old people's driving. That's really a bit of a cliche now and I don't really care. That's what passing is for. Old people being rude in public seems to be more my issue.

But the other day, on the way to the doctor's office I had an incident with a little, old man. I'm not sure if I was wrong or if he was wrong or what, but it honestly felt like I was filming a scene from "Curb Your Enthusiasm." So I'm going to tell you what happened and what I did and then you tell me if I was being an idiot. If the majority of people tell me I was wrong I will apologize and make a donation to a charity that helps the elderly. Ok?

I had to go to the doctor last Friday. My doctor's office is in a hospital that has lots of offices and a very small parking lot. The big parking lot is for the Emergency Room and you can't park there if it's not an emergency. Understandable. But, it's really hard to find a space. I drove around for fifteen minutes. I felt like I was at school. Couldn't find a space.

Finally, it's two minutes past my appointment time and I spot a couple who appear to be leaving and begin to creep behind them. Of course they cut in between some cars to get to the next lane, causing me to have to drive all the way around in a circle to get back to them. By the time I get to the space I notice a little old man in a huge white Cadillac has beat me to the space and has his blinker on. Well, that happens. He got there faster. It's fair. But no! The old man has a handicapped license plate!

Oh no, I thought. The poor little old man didn't see the free handicapped spots and now he's going to have to struggle across this parking lot to the door and he might have a heart attack or something. I have to tell him, I thought.

I beeped the horn and rolled down the window. He rolled down his window and gave me the finger. Well, I understand this too because he probably thought I was going to bitch about him taking my spot.

"Sir! Sir!" I called, "There's a free handicapped spot by the door!"

Half into the parking spot the little old man stepped out of his Cadillac and came over to my car.


So, he's hard of hearing.

I repeated myself.

"I KNOW!" yelled the little old man.

"You saw the handicapped spaces free?" I asked.

"Of course I saw them. I'm not blind."

"So why don't you park there?"

"I don't want to park there!"

"Why not?"

Because if you had a handicapped plate why on earth would you not want to take advantage of the good spot by the door that was free?? What is the sense in having the plate??

"My handicapped plate does not mean I have to park in a handicapped space. It means I have a choice!! I can park in the handicapped space if I want to!!"

"But, " I said, "That's not fair, because there are free handicapped spaces and only one regular space."

"It's not my problem," replied the old man.

"That's mean!!"


I took a deep breath.

"I want you to go park in the handicapped space because you can and I can't and because I've been driving around this parking lot for over fifteen minutes now and I can't find a parking space and I'm going to be late for my appointment."

"That's what you want?? FINE! FINE!"

The old man stormed off, got into his Cadillac, backed out and then went and parked in the free handicapped space by the door. I pulled into the spot.

Then I felt terrible. Was I being a jerk? What if the old man got himself all worked up and had a stroke or something and it was all my fault? Yet, I still feel like he should have parked in the handicapped spot. If the parking lot wasn't packed I obviously wouldn't have cared, but it wasn't. There was one regular spot and a couple free handicapped spots.

So was I being an idiot? Was I wrong? Should I have just let it go and waited for another space to open up? Or was I right and should I send this post to Larry David?


FreshHell said...

Call Larry.

Matt said...

Damn that is some serious parking issue. I have never in my life looked for parking for more than 5 minutes. With that kind of issue I don't think you did anything wrong. Besides he could have given you the finger again and walked away, but he didn't he actually moved his car for you. Be thankful. He was annoyed but he must have seen your way a little cause he moved his car for you.

BoB said...

Impossible to make a determination of rightness/wrongness of both parties without more information on the initial state of the other party.

Which is some kind of legal sounding sciencespeak.

I'm sure old dude had plenty of reasons for not taking the handicapped spot, but my gut reaction is pride. Or maybe he feels that the handicapped spot should be reserved for someone worse off than him, someone who isn't banging a young trophy wife. Either way, I think you presented your argument well enough and his reaction is his problem. He did give you the spot so he must not have felt that bad about it. You should stop feeling bad about it.

*attempted spotlight stealing story about handicapped spots follows*
I was going skiing in Vail with my one-legged friend and he asked where the handicapped spots were. Parking attendant says something about this is Vail and there aren't any. Which is interesting, but not the whole story. My buddy had just been talking about how rad it was to go to some huge rockshow event (what, they call them festivals or something) and having the parking guys there tells him to drive up to the front, where the handicapped spots are. So he's super stoked to drive through miles of parking with all his friends and walk right into the action.

Which is kind of a lame story, I guess. But you know, handicapped pride can be weird.

Alessandra said...

Hummmm... I can see his point, but yeah, he was being mean. Besides, for what you said you started being polite and continued to be so. So, no, you were not wrong.

LegalMist said...

I don't think you did anything wrong. You stated your case, he moved his car.

BoB may be right -- he may have been thinking he was being nice by leaving the spot for someone who needs it more than he, and you showed him that there is more than one way to look at that issue.

But his initial reaction in flipping you off before finding out what you had to say indicates he might not have been thinking anything at all nice...

If he has a stroke or heart attack because someone asks him to move his car, well, that's his own fault for reacting so badly to a reasonable request.

Nicole said...

I'm siding with the old dude. My grandmother has a handicapped tag. But it's for my grandfather, not her. If he isn't in the car, she doesn't use the space. And I don't beleive she should because she can walk just fine.

Amblus said...

I think the fact that he gave you the finger BEFORE EVEN LETTING YOU TALK pretty much puts you in the right.

Gina said...

You were trying to be helpful and he acted like an asshole. I mean - starting off by flipping you off pretty much earned him any reaction you had.

Anonymous said...

Just because his car has a handicapped tag doesn't mean that HE is the handicapped person who qualified for the tag. That may explain why he didn't initially park in the handicapped spot.

EvaMaRie said...

I'd be happy I procured change: problem, request, compliance. I look more for the end result, not the happy process.

My favorite thing to do is car block for the nicer driver when leaving a spot and multiple people are waiting. I know, it's petty.

Red said...

So I'm only 30, but I do have a disability, and thus have a handicapped parking tag (which I refer to as my cripple card). Generally, I am able to park in regular spaces and try to as much as possible because a) I figure there are people who need the handicapped spaces more than I do; and b)it's a pride thing--I hate feeling like a cripple. This said, if it's a crowded parking lot/street, or if the terrain is questionable (ice, snow, etc.) I'm taking a handicapped space if possible.

I don't think you were out of line to suggest he park in the handicapped space; you probably just embarrassed him a bit.

MtnMama said...

Yeah, his initial action of flipping you off before he heard what you were trying to get his attention for is an indication of his mindset. It sounds like he was defensive from the get-go.

I am the type to speak up and usually regret it. Doesn't stop me from doing it, though. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

i don't think you did anything wrong at all. for him to have flipped you off is really rude; he could use a refresher in social skills..

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Just, beautiful...


Anonymous said...

I just posted a comment on this post thinking I was commenting on your poem. Oops.


Anonymous said...

What a total Fuck-Tard!

I deal with stupid grumpy old men more often than I care to. And I am petrified that one day in my 70s I will find myself married to one.

You are fine and consederate and I am glad you stuck you ground on the issue. He is just mad because his hystrionics had no effect on you.

You go girl!

electricdaisy said...

I think he kind of has a point, as he may not need to park in the handicapped zone all the time, but if there are several handicapped spaces and only one regular, i think you are definitely in the right. I also have a problem with old people being grumpy (being a server in a restaurant that mostly has elderly patrons). For example, last night a man and his son were splitting a very small entree, and the chef decided to be nice and give them two FULL sized, $24 dollar entrees for the price of one. I told the man so he wouldn't expect that size the next time he did this, and he goes "WELL, WHY would they ever do that?!". Shut up and take the free food, dammit.

Anonymous said...

Just because he has a handicap plate doesn't mean it's for him. I have handicap plates on my car bu they are for my husband. I will admit, I use it when he's not with me ONLY when there a tons of HC spaces. If the spaces are limited, I use a regular spot as to ensure the people who need the designated spot get it.

Bottom line is, he beat you to the spot, weather he had handicap plates or not. I think I'll have to side with him.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he was having a good day and trying to get some exercise. Also he may have been afraid if he didn't move his car that you would vandalize it while he was gone.

Anonymous said...

I think your in the right here. The old man was an ass to begin with and I work in a place that makes and sells handicapped equiped vans, some disabled people are very nice but the older they are the more entitled they think they are to do whatever they want. What if it was the other way around. Say you wanted the handicap spot but he needed it, and you were like too bad and gave him the bird,(pretend there is no law aginst parking there with out a tag). Everyone would think you were in the wrong and not the other way around. To the people who are not handicaped and are driving handicapped taged cars, you should take down the handicap sigh so people can tell, unless its on your tag. The old man was a jerk, and screw his pride or he wouldnt have gone through the trouble to get a handicapp sticker in the first place!

MsCatCalls said...

Oh I just admire you had the balls to take it on with him and ask him nicely to move and say why .

I guess Nobody quite knows what it feels like to be old, disabled and feel like sh*te ( until we arrive there ) , there are days I am sure I will age without grace and be grumpy as hell and probably refuse to shift my car for anybody . But until then I think you were right ...

Missicat said...

I don't think you were out of line...if the plates were for someone else, he could have just told you that. It's not like you could read his mind and know if he is the one with the disability. What happened to people not acting like grumpy, selfish jerks? To me, it was a simple request, not like you were asking him for kidney for goodness sake.

Kate said...

Ya know, I'm thinking that exchange probably made the old guy's day. Seriously. And in that case, right and wrong is irrelevant! :)

FreeDragon said...

It's never wrong to be polite when stating your case. I admire you for staying polite when he became ruder and ruder. I would have been snappy. I think too you might have shamed him just a bit because he was probably raised to treat women like ladies. But if he starts every encounter that way he needs a little shamming.

Nana said...

As one who is not old, but white-haired, I do notice that young drivers are SOMETIMES rude to old-seeming drivers. He may have thought that of you.
The fact that he got out of his car to talk to you indicates that he may not be the handicapped person...but all's well that ends well.

Pat said...

I apologize.

I was born in the NY Polyclinic Hospital on 50th and 10th.

I lived in the 212 until I was 22, then I moved to Guadalajara, Mexico.

Can you spell culture shock?

I don't exactly understand why everyone hates New Yorkers. I'm only 57. I signal when I change lanes, especially since I am NOT going to stay left when someone wants to pass.

New Yorkers are the people the rest of the country loves to hate. We are getting a bit of a reprieve due to the dirty politicians from Illinois, but W T F?

Last week, I was here in SWF at a gas station, filling my car with NY plates.

The guy at the pump behind me asks me the following: " Are you one of those OBNOXIOUS New Yorkers?"

He has no idea how much restraint I practiced to say: " Oh no. I hope not." With the stupidest smile on my face.

SO! May I ask? Who was the obnoxious one?

Anonymous said...

He was a dick.

Jeannie said...

I think you were right. I applaud that you confronted him. You didn't mention (or I missed it) whether or not you thanked the man. If you hadn't been late and frustrated, you might have been more diplomatic but you were what you were. I don't know who the hell Larry David is. Call him if you want.

Anonymous said...

Old dude was being a selfish, rude prick. You are in the right. You handled it well :)

Andrea said...

You were right! I bet if you asked to borrow his handicapped tag he would have gone nuts. Having spent lots of time in South Florida, I know old people (sorry Mom) can drive you absolutely nuts! I hope he thought about what he did when he got home.

Steph said...

First thing that came to my mind was that maybe it was a pride thing. Which makes me sad.

But no reason to flip you the bird.

I don't fault either one of you.

Gabrielle said...

No, he was the moron.

The Queen said...

You were in the right.

Anonymous said...

team wlnm.

Bella@That damn expat said...

You don't have to worry about him having a heart attack, seems to me like that man is used to getting worked up over nothing.

And no, you don't have to make a donation.

Joanna said...

An old jerk was probably a young jerk in his day. Disabled jerks would probably still be jerks, even if they had nothing wrong with them. It's the "jerk" that is constant, not the age or infirmity.

Good on you for sticking to your guns.

Kibrika said...

I didn't read the rest of the comments, but I feel the old man was right in that it was not his duty to park in the handicapped spaces and he was doing you a favour. Maybe he got sour because you didn't act as if you were asking him a favour. You were right in that it didn't ask much of him to do you that favour and people should help each other out like that. You shouldn't feel bad (or be made feel bad).

Serenity said...

I haven't read all the comments so I don't know if I'm in the minority here...but I will not tell someone they did something right just to appease them...so, with that said:

I think you were wrong.

I think it was insulting to the old man, what you did. He is right, just because he has that tag doesn't mean he has to park in the spot. It DOES mean he has a choice.

And while you may be having empathy for him, I think you missed that maybe for him, this was about dignity. I can't imagine it's fun knowing that at times, you can't do things the way you used to be able to do them and if you can do them sometimes, you want to do them.

He wasn't parking there to be rude. I think he was parking there to show himself he can still walk that extra distance to the door, handicapped sticker be damned.

You did not say this, but I bet he heard, "Hey old man! Get your feeble butt to the handicapped space."

Whether what you said was true or not, I think it should have been left alone no matter how frustrating it was to find a spot. He has every right to park in that spot as well as the handicapped spot.

Jean said...

You were TOTALLY not wrong. Go have a cocktail with the money you were going to donate to the old people's charity. Or two.

Isn't it funny that society wants to guilt us into believeing that all old people are lovely and gentle and sweet, when in fact the same people that were jerk A-holes are still jerk A-holes. And now they're crabby about being old, too. Swell.

Dayna said...

This is so Larry David.
BTW... I think you were right. DOn't worry about the trifeling old fart.

Anonymous said...

At least you didn't slash his tires or key his car. I probably would have. Or maybe popped a window. Miserable old bastard should be respectable if he wants respect.

JoeinVegas said...

Well, the old man was a jerk, but he was right. Just because he has a plate does not mean he has to park there, just that he can. Maybe he was being nice ahead for somebody more handicapped than him, not wanting to take the close space if he could walk. Sorry about the no parking, don't make a donation, but next time: he was there first for the space.

Miss Kitty said...

You should get on the horn to Larry. RIGHT NOW.

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