Rarely do I play the handicap card. Those of you who know me understand me as a fun-loving guy who gets around the best I can and do not complain. Now is the time to complain, and to play the card.
I posted last week about letting some of the air out of a tire on a car parked in a handicapped space without a H/C tag at Kroger. This was wrong. I should not have done this. Let’s back up and tell the whole story. The Security One officer, let’s call him Barney Fyffe, was in his patrol truck in the lot. I asked him what kind of tickets he was putting on these cars. Turns out, they were WARNING tickets. Security One warning tickets. Apparently if somebody gets 3 of these, they get put on double-secret probation. I asked him to call the police to report them for breaking the law. Barney said his company was not allowed to call the police. WHAT??? You’re the security guard! He went on his patrol mission, and I did what I did. Then I went shopping at Kroger.
As I roll out in my electric wheelchair, I approach a man who has just pulled into the cross-hashed section next to the H/C space. I tell him this is not a proper parking space. He tells me he knows that, flips me off and then walks into Kroger. I take my phone out and fake took a photo of his car and tag. He sees me, and comes back yelling that I’m harassing him. He moves his car. I then see the big woman who is illegally parked in the H/C space. I ask what her handicap is. “Don’t worry about what my m’fing handicap is m’fer!” We begin a loud discussion. She rushes towards me and I move forward in my wheelchair. Now, folks, these things are touchy. My knee touches her car door, and it hits against this woman. She screams that she has just been assaulted, and then begins to yell and scream and spit in my face while pointing her 3” fingernails at my nose. I sit and take it. There is no damage to her car door. The doors in my house are destroyed due to the movements of this wheelchair.
She then wants to make it racial. People are taking pictures with their cell phones. Kroger employees are taking sides. The first guy comes back and says I approached him because he was black. Hey, if you’re ignorant (or just an ass-hole), I don’t care WHAT color you are. Barney Fyffe creeps up and yells in my ear, “SHUT THE F**K UP! “ I turn around, and now, all of a sudden, he is able to call the police. The lady says she has to leave to pick up her kids. I tell Barney that if she leaves, I leave. Barney orders me to stay. I tell him he has no authority. He can’t even call the police. Barney says that the lady(?) is going to come back. Oh, really? Then I’ll be back too.
I go home and shoot off an e-mail to Security One voicing my dismay over their so-called security. I get a response the next morning telling me that the incident will be investigated and they take security seriously. SERIOUSLY? That e-mail was 10 days ago, Bozo, and you haven’t responded or returned my call from today.
Fast forward to this afternoon. I roll across Poplar and Highland to go to the new Kroger. One of the Kroger security guards approaches me and asks me what I’m doing on the property. What? Supposedly, I am banned from the Kroger for the incident last week. Well, nobody ever told me about it. Security Joe says he’s going to call the police. Yeah, you do that. I’ll be in here shopping. I finish and ask if the police have arrived yet. No, I’m told, but they’re on their way. Shame, police can’t respond in a more timely manner when you have a crazy man in a wheelchair shopping at Kroger. I begin to wheel away. I get almost to the UPS Store when I hear the police siren. The siren from a Memphis Police Department cruiser.
MPD Officer Hardass approaches me as if I’m a threat in my wheelchair. I ask him if we can move 4 ft. to the shade (because of my diabetes). He tells me no and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him I’m going home. He then asks what I had been doing. I tell him I was shopping, and reach back to show him the recyclable bag with my milk and sugar-free vanilla sandwich cookies. DON’T REACH BACK THERE! He asks if I have an ID and I motion to my back-pack as I now know not to reach back there. He puts the back pack on my lap, and now he’s a little more at ease, thinking that maybe I am not the treat that I could have been, had I been allowed to go for the sugar- free vanilla sandwich cookies. He asks if I can walk. I tell him I’m paralyzed from the waist down. He says that when his partner gets here, they’ll put me in the back of the squad car. Really? The squad car? Can’t I just go back to Kroger where your partner is? He agrees, still wary that I may try to out run him in my 7MPH chair.
We meet back up at Kroger, the new on at Poplar Plaza. Two squad cars, two police officers, 3 Kroger security guards, Barney Fyffe, and me, the guy in the wheelchair. One of the Kroger guards identifies me as the culprit from last week. Busted. Guilty. Barney Fyffe tells the cops that I threatened to shoot him earlier in the week. WHAT? He said that he heard that from somebody who works at Kroger. I told him that was hearsay. He said that I used hearsay. Do you even know what hearsay is, Barney? Then a Kroger manager comes out then another manager comes out. One of the managers signs the report and BOOM. Now I am banned for shopping at this particular Kroger FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I guess this crazed disabled man can create a ruckus at any other Kroger in the world, but not at the one closest to my house. I can no longer roll 1/3 mile to shop for groceries here, but now am forced to roll (as I do not drive) 2.5 miles to the next closest store. Kroger is the only game in town.
MPD Officer Hardass then gave me a stern talkin’ to. What if somebody caught me letting the air out of the car tires? You mean the tires of the car that was not supposed to be parked in the H/C space? Officer said it didn’t matter. Suppose they would have assaulted me? Then what, he asks. You’re right, officer, thanks for saving my life. Thank you officer. Thank you for saving my life. You are right officer. Let’s focus on what didn’t happen instead of what did happen.
In my mind it was a wash. She parked in a parking space illegally, and I let some air out of her literal and metaphorical tire. I take responsibility for my actions and admit what I did was wrong. But did I mention that the big lady with the attitude did not even get a ticket? That’s right. She didn’t get a ticket, and I’m banned from Kroger. Banned from this Kroger. For life. Seems like they are more interested in getting people like me off the streets than enforcing the parking laws. I believe Kroger is discriminating against disabled people. All I want to do is shop at the store near my home.
So if you want to know what all the hub-bub was this afternoon at Poplar and Highland, it was me. No murder, no carjacking, no drug deals going down, no domestic battery, no burglary. Just me. Detained for an incident that happened last week in the parking lot. Yep, there’s a new crime boss in Memphis, and I’m him. Sorry if you had a home-invasion or were raped this afternoon. The cops were at Kroger making sure a disabled man no longer shops there. Probably won’t even make the 6PM news. I hope the streets of Memphis are now safe.
I had a heart transplant and a resulting spinal cord injury on Nov. 29, 2011. I have diabetes, am confined to a wheelchair and wear a diaper. How can I make your day better?
Do you think this disabled man should be banned from Kroger?