Finding humor while waiting for a space in an accessible parking lot

Patience, and sometimes protest, are required when you're staking out a spot

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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For those of us living with ALS, every day can have a stressful event. The key, I believe, is to get through the event and, if possible, remember it later with humor. Even in a parking lot.

“Let’s circle the parking lot one more time,” my agitated husband said.

“No,” I replied, “I think we’re better off staying put.”

We sat motionless in our van, in the middle of the large accessible parking lot of the Tucson Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Arizona. Thirty generous spaces surrounded us, and of course, all of them were full. It was hot outside, the inside air blowing from our van’s vents was beginning to feel stale, and my husband was losing patience — fast.

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We were there because he had a few back-to-back routine appointments, and I was following one of my ALS-related anti-stress strategies: to be a go-along whenever the opportunity arises.

I looked forward to my afternoon of sitting on my mobility scooter and waiting in the lobby of the big VA medical center. Besides my favorite pastime of people-watching, I enjoy seeing the various styles of rollators and mobility scooters that roll by. I also relish the quiet time to knit and come up with ideas for my next column.

But first, we had to park the van. Till then, we were stuck playing the parking lot waiting game.

What happened next

The game is much like going fishing. Pick your spot, put the line in the water, and wait.

We sat near one line of parked vehicles, and our van’s hazard lights blinked while we scanned for potential movement in our line of sight. A few people walked into our zone, jangling keys and digging through pockets. But they were just false alarms and crossed through to parking lots beyond ours.

Finally, just after my husband wanted to circle the lot, a couple came into view and headed straight to a vehicle parked ahead of us and slightly to the left. We then ever so patiently waited as the woman loaded her husband’s rollator into their SUV, helped him get seated, and seated herself in the driver’s seat. Ignition on, more waiting. Brake lights on. And lastly, the SUV backed up.

At that moment, a white car pulled up next to us and wedged itself between our van and the SUV that was now in full reverse and almost clear of the coveted parking space.

“Oh no,” I remember whispering as the white car boldly drove into the now-vacated space.

My husband jumped into action. Our van lurched forward, and he honked the horn as he rolled down his window to wave his arm in disgust. What followed was much ballyhooing, posturing, and arm waving. The white car’s driver rolled down his window and extended his arm. A passerby, who unbeknown to us had witnessed the whole scene, began waving his arms too and hollered at the driver of the errant white car.

Maybe because our accessible van was much larger than his vehicle, the uproar was intimidating, or he finally realized he’d broken the unwritten parking lot code of “wait your turn,” the white car slowly backed out and sped off. I stopped holding my breath.

Thankfully, the rest of our afternoon unfolded without further incident.


On the drive home while recounting our parking lot altercation, we noted the changing social norms. Everyone seems to be in such a rush to get somewhere that they just think about themselves. Cutting in line is rude. If the white car’s driver had politely asked us if he could take that spot because of an emergency or that he was running late, we surely would have let him in.

Then my husband told me that at his first appointment, his initial blood pressure reading was unusually high and needed to be repeated before he left the office. When his doctor questioned, my husband jokingly told him, “I think I have parking lot syndrome.”

His doctor laughed and said, “I totally understand.”

We drove home chuckling. For me, it was another day of looking for the bright side while living with ALS.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Thomas Robinson avatar

Thomas Robinson

Good article thanks helped me with a decision I had to consider😊

Robert Daniels avatar

Robert Daniels

Thanks for sharing


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