Royston resident Tammy Garrett has dealt with glances and snide remarks in parking lots around the Comox Valley, but the note posted Thursday morning on her windshield was unlike anything she’s ever received.
“This is not a ticket, but if it were within my power you would receive two, because of your Bull Headed (sic), inconsiderate, feeble attempt at parking, you have taken enough room for a 20 mule team, two elephants, and a safari of pigmies (sic) from the African interior,” read the typed note. “The reason for giving you this, is so that in the future you may think of someone else, other than yourself. Besides that, I don’t like domineering, egotistical or simple minded drivers, and you probably fit into one or more of these categories. I sign off wishing you early transmission failure. Also, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits.”
Garrett received the paper following a morning visit to the Courtenay Airpark, and while she is used to remarks when she moves in and out of the ramp of her wheelchair-accessible van, she was not prepared for the anonymous paper on her vehicle.
“I’m not taking advantage of a handicap stall,” she said. “I’m not in a handicap stall. The reason I’m taking two spots is not because I’m being a jerk, it’s because I have no choice. And a lot of times there aren’t that many handicap stalls, so I can’t take one anyway.”
Garrett, who has battled cancer for more than 10 years, is confined to a wheelchair and uses her ramp-enabled van to get around the Valley. Her specially-designed ramp, which is on the right side of her car, is generally too big to manoeuvre even in a handicap parking stall, she explained.
She’s used to getting comments from passersby, but for the most part, takes them in stride.
“I usually just say look, I’m sorry I took two spots, but there’s no handicap spots available, and my ramp has to have a certain clearance to come up and down. That’s all there is to it; it’s not because I think my car is so cool — it’s obviously a van, it’s just that there’s no other choice.”
Garrett said she makes a point of taking the farthest two stalls she can find, but people continue to take issue with her parking. She added she’s had mothers with children point out her parking job while she’s rolling up to her van, and people accost her, banging on her car window asking why it’s taking so long to get into her car.
“I’m just flabbergasted at why this is such a big deal for people. It’s just ridiculous to me … and I think if that’s (your biggest) problem, that I’m offending you (by) having two parking spots, then back off, take a second.
“Check my car – I’ve got a handicap sticker (from the rearview mirror), on the side door I’ve got another handicap sticker that you can see,” she explained.
“Peak inside – there’s a ramp and the seats are missing. You can make an obvious inference if you just took the time rather than do something like this to ruin someone’s day.”
In order to configure her van with a ramp, Garrett’s vehicle cost around $55,000. She noted it already draws a lot of attention, and she doesn’t feel as though she should identify anymore than necessary.
“I just want people to know, when you’re out and about when you see it … instead of getting mad, maybe just take a second and think, OK, is there a reason maybe they’re parking that way, and check their van if you want to make sure it’s a handicap van before you do something nasty.”