Parking desperation

Picture this: it’s a rainy Saturday afternoon at Leichhardt Aquatic Centre. The Tigers are playing the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval next door, so parking – often a challenge in Leichhardt – is at a premium. A chap who has been at the pool with his kids returns to his neat European car, parked without a permit in a disabled space, and finds 2 parking officers booking the car beside his, which is also parked illegally. At this point, most people would count their blessings at returning in the nick of time, look embarrassed and get out of there as quick as possible. But not this fellow.

‘That’s really rough’ he says to one parking officer. ‘We haven’t booked you’ she replies. He continues that they are still way out of line, because ‘there’s absolutely nowhere to park here when the football is on’. He’s aggrieved on behalf of the person parked beside him! He gesticulates in the direction of the general car park ‘why don’t you do something about them?’. (I’m not sure what a parking officer is supposed to do about 500 cars parked completely legally.) His complaints increase in heat as he gets into his car. He then winds down his window and shouts abuse at the parking officers as he drives away.

Disabled parking spaces exist for a reason. Many people with a disability cannot park elsewhere. Normal parking spaces may be too far away, or too narrow to unload a wheelchair, or without gutter ramps, or the ground too rough to traverse. Able-bodied folks face no such issues. There were parking spaces near the Aquatic Centre that day; they were just further down the hill, necessitating a walk back up the hill in the rain. That’s a pest for a person who walks, but an impossibility for many who don’t.

Sitting in my wheelchair, watching this nasty event unfold, I wondered what this fellow’s kids took away from the encounter. Did they learn to respect authority and uphold the law? To control their anger in public? To appreciate the needs of others? Perhaps to put things in perspective? In a city where a good parking spot can move some people to tears, I’d like to hope their dad later reflected on his tirade and told them it was an example of how not to behave. But, somehow, I doubt it.

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