3.20.2006

Mom parking

I saw this sign in the local CVS parking lot and thought, wow. That is so nice of them! What a kind gesture of customer empathy! It says "PARKING FOR EXPECTING MOMS AND CUSTOMERS WITH INFANTS." So they don't have to walk as far! It's right by the front door.

But then I had to wonder, if I were a mom, how might I feel about this? Perhaps I would be overjoyed. "Finally, someone recognizes all the struggles I'm going through with this giant belly/crying baby/crazy toddler."

Maybe. Or maybe I'd be a little pissed and get all women's lib about it. "God, here I am parking next to the handicapped people. Like being pregnant is some kind of disability. I'm perfectly capable of crossing the street, thank you very much."

Perhaps. But the worst part might be the massive gray area that this sign implies. What if I'm just barely pregnant? I'm not showing yet and my body hasn't changed? Will I get mean looks if I park here? What if my infants are at home, but they are still stressing me out? And hey, define infant! My son is 4 but he's still a spaz, does that count?

Even worse, what if someone 'outside of the demographic' parks there - what is the penalty for some dude just pulling up his truck? With handicapped spots, there are big badges on the rearview and clear fines if you break the rule. Nothing of the sort at CVS.

This sign is the latest incarnation of what we call the Honor Code. It's like those signs on the bus: "Please give up this seat to the elderly." You don't have to give it up, but you should. There even becomes social pressure if you don't. Or like those handicapped stalls in public bathrooms. I'll admit, I use them all the time. Never see any handicapped people waiting when I get out. But what if they were? I sure would feel bad.

Our society has already taken huge strides - for better or worse - towards preferential treatment of persons with disabilities. Advocates say they can better integrate; opponents say they are more marginalized than ever. But there it is - our wheelchair ramps and large bathrooms and handrails and parking spots are a part of America.

I guess I'm just wondering if the next group to receive special treatment is moms and expecting moms. And if so, I'm seeing the need for more clarity around the issue. Who's in, and who's out? Handicapped people get blue badges. Maybe moms could get a mom tag? Nothing embarassing, rather something to be proud of? Check me out, I'm either a) pregnant or b) raising a two-year-old? Cut me some slack because I deserve it?

Call me crazy, but if this is the direction our society is heading, then mom tags, positioned well, could be kinda cool. Maybe they'll have them by the time I'm a mom...

3 comments:

Jessica said...

Oh man. That actually happened to me once at a movie theater. I used the handicapped bathroom because it was pretty packed, I think there was probably a line or something, but the bathroom had 2 doors so I couldn't really see who was coming in and all? And then by the time I got out, someone in a wheelchair was waiting and gave me the nastiest look. I felt so bad! But I had no idea....most girls always just use that stall, not even thinking that could actually happen.

Nancy said...

My understanding about handicapped bathroom stalls is that they are available for people who need them when they need them, but not that they are "reserved." If a restroom is crowded, as they always are at movie theaters, common sense says use whatever stall is available, handicapped or not! That takes away the guilt issue, I think.

Elliott said...

What about a parking space for people who really need to pee really really bad?