Praise the elements and the angels. Fresh air, sunshine, and a chance to get some outdoor exercise with my physical therapist…
Whoa! What’s this?
“I’m not going to jail!!!”
The short, stocky woman stood toe to toe with the young police officer. He looked confused. He had to do his job; he also had to be respectful. Had he threatened to arrest her?
“Ma’am, this is a handicapped zone.”
The truth be told, the woman screaming didn’t own the car. I don’t know how she got into this thing. But, by now, a crowd of senior and elderly citizens had gathered, and they were not happy.
I, on the other hand — and foot — was happy. I had been cooped up in my apartment for more than 40 days. This was the third day of sunlight and warm temperatures in a winter that almost had me believing in Armageddon. If I could have danced without falling — well, let me just say “I’m workin’ on it.”
“Please don’t tow my car!”
The woman in the (very comfortable looking I might add) pink robe was terrified.
“This is a handicapped zone.”
A young woman visiting her mother patiently repeated this fact to anyone who would listen. The tow truck line was attached to the car. It’s a cosmic fact. Once the line is attached, it’s a done deal. There were five — yes, I counted them — five police cars with the officers facing this angry group. It was a little dramatic.
I live in this lovely place because I, too, now qualify as a senior. You have no idea how much angst went into this revelation. But I suppose that with a serious illness comes the willingness to let go of façades. One after another the veils drop, and secrets are left open for examination by anyone who chooses to peek. It doesn’t matter if people say my skin looks so smooth, my face so young, and my attitude youthful. Illness can bring, if one is willing, a new and glorious embrace of the present. I can now ride the commuter train for $1.
It’s a new place, barely eight years old. My apartment faces the woods of a college campus across the road. My first week here I saw a fox. And during this horrifically snowy season, I had the pleasure of watching cross-country skiers on the trail that will be hidden once the trees bloom in the spring.
Sometimes, in the quiet of night, I hear the cries of some small animal or bird that is meeting it’s fate as dinner. It’s eerie; that pitiful cry and then silence. But then the morning comes.
This dramatization around an illegally parked car seemed to play into the predator/prey story. Except that everyone felt they were prey. No one in the situation wanted to be there. The faces of those young officers, all white, revealed their discomfort. They wanted to be anywhere else on the planet: chasing drunk drivers, arresting bank robbers, responding to fire emergencies — anywhere but here with five cop cars for a handful of senior citizens. The young white tow truck driver looked fearful as he talked with his supervisor on his cell phone.
The seniors, with the exception of one, were all black. The situation was, I suppose for some, um, awkward.
I am more warped. Oh, the thrill of it! Not only was I outside; I was being entertained. And I suppose, on some level, I knew the situation would be resolved amicably. Why? Because it’s an amicable community, within and outside of the complex. And no one — believe me, no one — wanted to be on the evening news.
I’ve been listening to people complain about cabin fever this winter. Yes, the temperatures have been in the single digits, the snow has been up to 10 inches deep — more in some places — and spring seems too far away. But after a year of living mostly indoors, I am finding it hard to have one ounce of pity. The extent of my travels has been the tedious act of using a wheelchair or walker to move from one room to another. For those with physical limitations, we’d give anything to walk into the frigid air or put our feet into the snow.
“Ma’am,” an exasperated, but patient, officer repeated. “This is a handicapped zone.”
My physical therapist and I had work to do and went about our business: my learning to use the walker as I stepped off a curb and walked on the pathway between the building and the parking lot.
Whoa. What’s this?
A miracle of the modern world occurred. The tow truck driver unhitched his line.
The young girl, as a gesture of kindness to the car owner, moved the car to its designated parking space. It seemed that everyone was going to have a happy ending. The woman in the pink robe came to each of us individually to thank us for praying for her (I admit that I was not owed this thanks). The police were so ready to go look for real trouble. The tow truck driver, having not been attacked by a bunch of old folks, climbed into his truck to leave.
I, fully exhilarated, returned to my apartment.
May your days be free of tow trucks. And—if you have an inclination to do it because you’ll only be there for a few minutes — DON’T. Don’t park in a handicapped zone. It’s rude. It’s inconsiderate. It will cost you up to $200. And it costs taxpayers money to send the police when you take a space that rightfully belongs to someone else.
Okay. I’m done. Peace out.