On Sunday, I had a "Dave Hingsburger moment."
For those of you who haven't "met" Dave yet, you simply must have a look at his fantastic blog. Dave is a long-standing and very powerful disability advocate, who does not shy away from confronting people who are discriminatory towards people with a disability. I read his blog and admire not only his insight and analytical powers (not to mention how consistently articulate he is) and wonder where he finds the courage to do what he does.
Well, on Sunday evening, from somewhere deep inside me, came that same courage.
Hubby and I decided to go to the movies at the nearby Mall. It was a cold and wet Sydney evening, and the car park was kind of busy. We joked about how inconvenient it was that we didn't have our kids with us (not really, we were enjoying a night out together) because the only close parking spot was the disabled one. So we parked further down and walked back in the rain. Just as we got there, two young guys in a brand new black shiny Audi parked themselves into the disabled spot. Not a permit in sight.
And something came over me.
I looked at them. And I stood there. I shouted to hubby to go along, I'd come later, when I was done there.
The driver's mate looked embarrassed and focused intensely on the floor. The driver tried to ignore me. I stood there. The thought crossed my mind that he might come out and sock me one. I decided to stay nevertheless.
After a few minutes the driver couldn't take it any more and came out. Asked me what the problem was.
I told him I didn't see a disabled permit. He explained that he was just picking someone up. I explained to him that that is not ok. That he might be the difference between someone with a disability being able to enjoy an evening at the movies or not. Someone like my daughter. Or maybe his grandma. I told him that what he was doing was just as illegal as driving through a red light. And I told him that I would report him, and took a photo of his licence plate with my mobile as I said that.
He was not impressed, clearly couldn't give a toss.
And then I said:
"You are a very arrogant young man. I'm glad I'm not your mother, I would be deeply ashamed of you".
And that's when I "got" him.
His face twitched and I could see I had hit a nerve. Family was clearly important to him, and I had just shamed him where it mattered.
So I walked away.
He stayed put, of course. Wouldn't move his car for dear life.
But I got him. I think he won't ever park in a disabled spot again without some sense of shame.
I don't know what came over me, why I decided to challenge him. But I'm glad I did. Maybe I'm getting more radical in my old age. Maybe I'm just plain silly. I would never thought that I would dare to do this sort of thing. Maybe it's the the consistent reading of Dave's posts that have crystallised into action.
All I can say is "Thanks Dave!"
(and yes, the movie was nice. Especially since it was ages since my lovely hubby and I went out together).