Lame excuses

What is it in this "age of arrogance" that precludes us from taking responsibility for our own actions? Why can't we accept the possibility that we might have screwed up and not have to manufacture some lame excuse to explain our own shortcomings?

Recently my partner and I were visiting one of the local warehouse-distribution retailers (you know, those places where you can buy toilet paper only by the railroad boxcar load), and there were three disabled parking spots left unfilled.

I pulled into one of them, got out of the car and was busy putting my crutches on. A new minivan swung into the spot next to me, and the woman driving it got out and started hurrying toward the entrance.

"Pardon me," I spoke up. "Have you got a disabled parking pass? They'll tow you if you park in that spot without one."

"Have you got one?" she spat back at me as she strutted on. (My car bears not an easily transferable mirror hanger but a permanent disabled license plate.)

That's the way it always is whenever you ask anybody to move out of a disabled parking spot: "But I'm only going to be here for a second."

I'm sorry - that excuse just doesn't cut it. A disabled driver needs that parking spot on his or her first pass-by. The driver can't sit, double-parked, waiting for some inconsiderate slob to come sashaying back from the latte stand.

Another time, a car full of able-bodied teenagers pulled into a disabled parking spot next to me. When I reminded them that it was a restricted parking spot, I was answered with: "Well, I'm going to be disabled one day."

He was lucky he wasn't saying that to one of my more militant disabled friends. I've known people to drag a key along an illegally parked car as they rolled past in their wheelchair, or to dump a colostomy bag on the car's hood. If you think bird droppings are a problem...

The condition of the weather even accents the bogus disabled parking. Let it sprinkle, and more and more people use the spaces. With a heavy rain, seemingly almost everybody suddenly becomes disabled.

In Florida, city governments have been known to deputize certain citizens to write disabled-parking citations, and the fines are steep enough that the violator will think long and hard about chancing that spot close to the door again.

The problem of sloppy driving habits isn't limited just to parking violations, either. When you're operating a motor vehicle, accept the responsibility that what you're doing is a very serious endeavor, and pay attention.

Bad excuses for inexcusable driving have no place in our mobile society.

You hear them every day: "The kids were arguing in the backseat" ... "I was looking for something in my purse" ... "I was changing the CD and looking for a new one." (That last little distraction recently killed four bicyclists down in California; the driver got off with community service.)

Now, of course, there's the latest distraction: "My phone rang."

A Seattle motorcycle officer of my acquaintance said recently that people who offer up that excuse are often amazed when he writes them tickets anyway.

There are some drivers who have even tried to use that tactic in court: "But, Your Honor, I told the officer my phone rang!"

In driving, as in everything else, you are responsible for what you do.

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