Thanks to those of you who have followed my escapades at Kroger and offered their support. I’m happy to report that the matter has been settled. I offered my apologies to the manager who asked me to join him for a cup of coffee. My actions were inappropriate and I take full responsibility for them.
Johnny Stanfield, the manager at the Poplar Plaza Kroger (aka the “new” Kroger) called me Monday morning and set up a time to meet on Tuesday at Perkins. Just after noon, Janice Broach, a reporter for Action News 5 in Memphis, called me. She said she heard what had happened at Kroger, and she understood that I did what a lot of people wanted to do when they see a person illegally parked in a handicapped space; slash their tires.
“NO. NO. NO.”, I told her. I did NOT slash anyone’s tires. I let some of the AIR out of ONE tire. Funny how these stories change as they’re spread. I declined the interview as she wanted to do a story on me vs. Kroger. I told her thanks, but the issue was about to resolve itself the next day. While I had taken the low road in the parking lot, I wanted to take the high road here. She then asked to talk to me about handicapped people and their troubles with people who get frustrated finding a public H/C parking space. I agreed to do so.
She and Brian, the cameraman, came by the house, and I focused on the problem as I see it. They took video of me getting into an out of my vehicle, and the obstacles faced when I’m unable to park in a H/C space. This story aired on WMC TV, Monday, July 29th at 10PM
Kroger and I worked things out. No problem there. The Memphis Police officer team who wrote the Kroger report was very unsympathetic. They told me that I was in the wrong (which I was) and next time I should call the police if I see it happen again. But he also said that they don’t want to take time off the streets for a “BS call”. Really? A BS call. Is this a BS call I asked him. Writing a report 10 days after the incident? He did not answer.
Now I know that not all people who park in handicapped parking spaces have visible handicaps. But, come on, a 24-year-old in a pair of running shorts and new shoes? Who are we kidding here? You’ve all seen it happen. They’re just using their mother’s car/tag and it’s not skin off their nose. But there are MEDICAL DOCTORS out there who will write you a H/C prescription for an ingrown toenail. There are many, many drivers in Memphis that abuse this privilege.
And it’s not all on the drivers. Some business owners are at fault for not having visible stencils. I mentioned a problem in a public parking lot to the owner of Republic Coffee, and he treated me like dog stuff. I’m told that he has fixed the problem, but he has yet to contact me. That’s not surprising because he has also told me that I am no longer welcome in his restaurant.
If it seems like I’m going off about nothing, think about this; had I (personally) parked in the space to the left, I could not get back into the car until the owner of this car left. This happened last Friday night at Mingle-wood Hall. Fortunately, my wife drove that night and she had to pull out so that I could get into the car. My new wheelchair arrives tomorrow, and I hope to get our car fitted for hand controls by the end of the month. I’M NOT PLAYIN’, PEOPLE!
But the icing on the cake is that Security One, the parking lot police for Finnard Properties, nor the property owners have responded to my e-mail or phone calls. Yeah, maybe I’ll go away.
I have also put up a FaceBook Page – Wheelchair Police. This is where I call people out for illegally parking in wheelchair accessible parking spaces. All photos I take are forwarded to the Memphis Police Department showing the offending vehicle, the date, time, and location. There is an application called parkingmobility.com, which allows citizens to take pictures and send them in to local authorities. That would be great. Citizens, you and I, could take the photos and the offending party would get ticketed. I contacted them to investigate the possibility of having it set up here in Memphis, but was told that the fines are too low for them to be interested. $100 is on the low end. Why don’t they raise the fine? A person who would park in a H/C space for a $100 fine would probably park there for $300 as well. I mean, if they don’t enforce the law, what does it matter?
By the way, I’ve been run over twice this year. Both times they ran over my left foot. Neither drivers were looking. Both times on Poplar Ave. Once trying to cross the parking lot on the sidewalk in front of McDonald’s where the lady apologized and hugged me. The other time crossing Poplar @ Tillman by some hit and run driver.
I’ll see you in the parking lot.