Over the past 4, almost 5, years I’ve witnessed some pretty blatant disregard for pregnant women and families with young children in parking lots across our fair province. For the sake of this blog, let’s review; most parking lots in Ontario, and I think many in North America, now offer three types of spots.
- ‘Regular’ parking spots: take up the majority of the lot, evenly spaced, clearly marked with yellow/white lines that encourage people to park their cars in an orderly fashion.
- ‘Handicap’ parking spaces: typically close to the entrances and wide enough to accommodate assisted mobility devices. They are clearly marked with both a bright blue sign and blue marking on the pavement. These are available to those with disabilities who have acquired the appropriate pass, displayed clearly on their dash.
Now we also have one more type of parking space that is starting to make an appearance in our local lots:
- The ‘Expectant Mothers/Young families’ parking spots. These are typically next to the ‘Handicap’ spots, close to the door, slightly wider and marked with cute signs sporting strollers or storks.
As a parent with two kids, I appreciate the fact that retailers understand that leaving the house with kids and all of their accessories is a daunting task. It’s hard when the only available spot is at the far end of a parking lot and you have to work your way to the doors through insane, careless drivers, while holding the hands of a curious toddler jumping his way along and toting 20 lbs of baby in an infant seat which is doing it’s best to pull your shoulder from it’s socket with every step. Having a shorter trek to the shopping carts, where you can corral your offspring, makes the trip infinitely more pleasant and I’m always pleased when we manage to snag one of those coveted spaces! It’s definitely a letdown when you see them all full up but we can’t be winners every time!
Now, my annoyance is this, child-free people who cut you off like it’s the last lap in Mario Kart in order to grab the spot for themselves! It makes me bust out into an internal monologue of ‘REALLY?!?’ a la SNL Weekend Update. I know that it’s raining outside, or hot, or you’re in a hurry but let me tell you, it’s much easier for you to drag your lazy butt the 10 extra feet from the next available spot, than it is for me, my husband and two kids to do it.
It really took the cake when people would use the short-term, 10 min max, ‘Labour and Delivery’ drop off spots in front of the hospital to wait for various friends and family. I observed many vehicles there for half an hour or more last summer and rarely saw any pregnant women exit any of the cars. Women who have delivered…just take a minute to let that one sink in. Can you imagine walking from the next lot over while experiencing contractions? Good times right?!? No.
Personally, A and I only park in those spots if all 4 of us are going into the store. If we’re shopping without the boys, that spot is not for us. Honestly even if we just bring V we’ll walk from the next available parking space because we KNOW someone else needs it more.
Topping my personal list of ‘worst offenders’ is a lady who almost sideswiped us to swing into the spot ahead of us. This was in ankle deep snow, with a tiny 4 year old and infant in his carrier, all while I was still sporting my nephrostomy tube. Oh you just needed to grab some dip for that dinner party you’re headed to? That’s fine…I don’t mind carrying two kids while slogging through slush and snow, trying not to catch my medical tubing on the infant car seat. We’re cool. I seriously debated hunting that woman down in the store and giving her a piece of my mind but managed to (grudgingly) let it go.
It is probably my number one pet peeve when we’re in a lot these days, when I see people who clearly have no kids, grabbing the spots because they don’t feel like walking the extra few feet. Sadly I think it’s just a sign of the times that people just don’t care about anyone other than themselves. I don’t believe people take the spots to be malicious…it’s just that they can’t see beyond their own wants at the time. I’d love to carry passive aggressive ‘spot shaming’ cards on me to leave on windshields but let’s be honest…that type of person probably wouldn’t care anyways.
So as a public service announcement please be courteous when you park! There may be no-one lined up behind you for the spot at the time but who knows what will happen 5 minutes down the line. Think of the worn-out moms and dads who just want to get in and get out with their overtired kids before you snake a spot just so your hair won’t get frizzy in the rain.