A Little Courtesy Can Mean A Lot

A Little Courtesy Can Mean A Lot

By Joanna Mechlinski.

Recently I stopped at a local plaza to pick up a pizza for dinner. This particular plaza happens to have precisely one accessible ramp – several businesses away from the pizza place, in front of a very busy dry cleaner’s. Each time I go get a pizza, I not only have to walk an extra distance in order to use the ramp, but it’s often blocked by dry cleaning customers, running in for “just a minute.”

This time was no exception. I struggled to get around a white van almost completely blocking the ramp.

As I did, a young man came out of the dry cleaner’s.

“Is this your van?” I asked, pointing.

“Yes,” he replied, looking curious as to what I could possibly want.

“Well, you’re blocking the handicapped ramp,” I said.

Now his face took on a mixture of defensiveness and fear (no doubt thinking I was going to get him into some kind of official trouble).

“I was just in there for a minute,” he said. Of course.

“That’s not ok,” I told him. “There are people who really need that ramp. If you park there for a minute, and the next person and the next, nobody is ever going to be able to get up there.”

The young man kept insisting that he hadn’t done anything wrong, because it was for just that infamous minute. I wasn’t going to waste my time.

“Look,” I said. “I’m not trying to yell at you or get you in trouble. All I’m asking is that next time you avoid blocking that ramp. Just be a little courteous. That’s all.”

He scrambled into his van in a hurry, no doubt itching to tell his friends about the crazy lady at the dry cleaner’s. But with any luck, the memory of our encounter would remain with him the next time he saw a handicapped ramp.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to give someone a basic rundown on courtesy for those with mobility issues, and I doubt it’s the last. As I told the young van driver, I have no intention of causing trouble for anyone. I don’t want to come across as lecturing or scolding. I just want people to stop for a moment and realize what they’re doing. Not everyone is as fortunate as they are, fully able to walk, climb, reach or whatever else they want to do, without even thinking about it. Some of us need assistance – either in human or adaptive form – in order to maintain our independence.

On this surface, this short exchange really means nothing. But if you stop to think about it, it’s really symbolic of everything that people with physical issues are fighting for. That’s the whole point of raising awareness of various diseases and conditions. Some people might make a monetary donation toward the cause and consider themselves great supporters, their job done. That is indeed a good and necessary (without money, research and programming can’t be done) but it isn’t the only or even main point. People dealing with physical limitations – either a lack of ability or else ability with pain – want those around them to better understand what they’re dealing with. When that happens, the able bodied may be more thoughtful to the needs of others. This extends to the big picture, with things like building more ramps in public places; but it’s also as simple parking your vehicle ten feet further so as not to block the one existing ramp for those who really need to use it.

Many people may mistakenly believe that persons with special needs are asking a great deal. But for the most part, they couldn’t be more wrong. Human beings are remarkably adaptable creatures, and most folks are able to navigate whatever obstacles life throws at them with the smallest of adjustments. All it takes is some consideration, some thought to others beside your own self. And isn’t that really something we should all be doing for one another to begin with?

Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a chronic pain sufferer who lives in Connecticut and is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. You can follow her on twitter @castlesburning.

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Authored by: Joanna Mechlinski

Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a chronic pain sufferer who lives in Connecticut and is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. You can follow her on twitter @castlesburning.

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What if we carried stickies that said something like: ^

Handicap parking is necessary so people with limited mobility can get access to A LIFE.
We appreciate that.


In the 50s or 60s this suggestion would have made good sense. In today’s world, unfortunately confronting a stranger and putting them on the defensive for even a few seconds can result in an explosive, threatening counter-reaction, possibly even involving them pulling a gun or knife on you and killing you. Sad but true. Better to insist that your local police department regularly swing by and enforce the handicapped parking sign by writing costly tickets.


Current “healthy folks” no longer get sick, are injured, or become disabled. Hmmmm………I remember when I felt like that Give coutresy, get courtesy, whole hearted believe! Sometimes courtesy and respect can’t hear as good, like me now.


I run into that all the time at the post office. People park in the handicap for “just a minute”, while their spouse sits in their vehicle, in the meantime I have to park much further away, all I can do is give them an evil glare, they never look at me. That’s why people are so disgustingly fat and lazy, just an observation. If I’m having a good day, I won’t park in the handicap parking. Ah, humans.

Nancy Wilson

I asked the city to put a handicap parking in front of my home because my drivway is on a hill. I am constantly having to call the police to have cars ticketed. It is so in considerate! They use the , “I was just there a minute” excuse all the time. The sign doesn’t say they are are allow to park in handicap spaces for a minute or anytime! Grrrrrr, makes me so angry that healthy people could be so insensitive!


You are so on point its seems over the last two decades parents are not teaching there kids moral, respect for your elders, courtesy, open the door for the old lady or gentlemen. Do an act of kindness when you can. I have a 17 year old son and Ive repeated those values in him since he could speak. Please was his second word. Told him there is always someone who has it harder then you. Hes turned out to be a sweet young man and people tell me hes always welcomed at there house. Not to get off subject but its a necessity to teach young one these important values in my opinion.. Great post!

Maggi Martin

Thank you

CRPS Survivor

This is a good article but let’s focus on this fight for our lives.

I truly believe this opioid “Crisis” , the forced dose limits is a fight for our lives. How many of us will die from suicide or something else before the DEA and this administration stops treating us like drug addicts?

Even dogs get pain Management yet the Attorney General says we should take aspirin and go to bed!

There’s no time for general observations that every disabled person has experienced. We must keep up
the pressure so we can have some quality of life.


Very good post and a great example of assertiveness with consideration for the other person as well. I think you were kind to tell him you weren’t intending to get him into trouble.