A 41-year-old woman with Multiple Sclerosis returned to her car, parked in a disabled space, to find a nasty note taped to her windscreen, then took to Facebook for her reaction.
Justine Van Den Borne went shopping with her daughter in Melbourne last week, parking her car in a disabled car park. When she returned, there was a note stuck on her windscreen, which read “Did you forget your wheelchair?” plastered right next to her disabled parking permit.
Frustrated by the spiteful author’s assumptions, Ms Van Den Borne took to Facebook to air her grievance – the response to which has been both astounding and encouraging. Here’s what she wrote:
“To [the] person [who] left this on my car last week at Mitcham Shopping Centre – I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 35. Not just MS but the worst one that never goes away and is slowly crippling my life. My kids have had to deal with things that kids shouldn’t ever have to deal with and all of our futures are forever changed.
“On the day you saw me I was having a good day. I was walking with my daughter unaided having a nice day. Thank you for ruining that. You made me feel like people were looking at me, the exact way I feel when I can’t walk properly. I am sick of people like yourself abusing me on my good days for using a facility I am entitled to.
“A disability doesn’t always mean a person has to be wheelchair-bound but lucky for you I one day will be. Right now my focus is to walk into my best friend’s wedding next September and not have to be pushed. I will be 42.
“Before you ruin another person’s day remember you don’t know everything and just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean a person isn’t struggling to put one foot in front of the other.”
Her post has had well over 30,000 likes and has been shared almost 5,500 times. She has received thousands of messages of support and has been heralded for her strength of character in dealing with this situation.
This is not the first time that Ms Van Den Borne has had to deal with people questioning her disability when parking her car. There was one week when she had to answer to ‘enquiring’ busy-bodies three times at three separate shopping centre car parks. People have even waited for her to return to her car to ‘express their opinions’ of her parking etiquette.
Andrew Giles of MS Australia was shocked by this incident, but added that it is a common occurrence for people who have disabilities with ‘invisible symptoms’.
“A lot of people with MS may look okay but often people don’t realise they are dealing with a whole range of symptoms, like pain, fatigue, blurred vision and sometimes incontinence and they often do end up in wheelchairs, while others have difficulty walking,” he said.
And when it comes to the strict regulations for obtaining a disability parking permit: “You need certificates from your doctor or neurologist and that permit should be proof enough that a person is entitled to park there,” he said.
Mr Giles also had high praise for the way in which Ms Van Den Borne has handled this issue, and credited her for taking the opportunity to raise awareness for people in similar situations.
“Justine has dealt with it really well but it could have been a person who was housebound or building up the courage to take the first trip in their car,” he said. “If that happened to somebody else, they might go home and never go out again.”
What do you think of this? Have you ever left a note on a car parked in a disabled space? Have you ever had a note stuck to your windscreen after parking in a disabled space?