Scam or Consequences?


The other day I was pulling into a parking lot where my daughter and I were going to eat and as I was looking for a spot I noticed a real nice sporty car pull into the handicapped spot at the end of the lane I was driving in.   Out jumped (literally) a man and woman along with a child and walked into the restaurant.  They seemed to have no trouble getting out of the car and certain at the pace they made it to the restaurant door, no problem walking.  So I had to look.  Sure enough, they had a handicapped placard hanging from their rearview mirror.  To the casual observer, everything might appear normal.

In the last months of my wife’s life, we had to argue with the doctor to get a temporary handicapped placard for our car.  She could only walk with a walker and could not make steps.  How do these people get a placard and use it so indiscriminately?  More than a bit annoying.  But then some people will always try to scam the system.

I remember many years ago when I was working on a contract for EDS to create an intake system for the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program for the state of New Jersey that I became increasing aware of the number of people that try to scam the best intentioned systems.  The program would distribute vouchers that could be redeemed for various food items considered to be essential.  One day I went to a store that took in a lot of vouchers just to watch who would come in and how they would use the vouchers.  Sure there were lots of people who looked like they honestly needed the assistance.  However, when you see people coming in and using vouchers for the necessities with one cart and a second cart with ‘luxury’ items that they would not have otherwise been able to afford, you have to at least stop a moment to wonder whether there is a better way.

Recently there has been reports of people hiring ‘disabled’ guides who use a wheelchair to get around the parks just so they can go to the front of the line or at least through special, shorter lines.  What’s next?  Maybe they will start hiring ‘disabled’ children for the day to go with them to the parks just to avoid the lines.  Let’s hope not, but where will it end?

But it is not just our local entertainment parks like Disney, Universal, Sea World and others.  I now heard of people asking for complimentary wheel chairs at airports just to get quickly from one terminal to another without having to run and to be able to board planes before others.

This sickens me.  When we came back from Pennsylvania last November after burying my wife’s father, her cancer was getting so bad that she had trouble walking.  At our stopover in Charlotte, she asked for transportation from one gate to the other (in another terminal) because she was in such pain.  She actually felt guilty as she passed other older people walking from gate to gate while they stared at her as if to ask why does she get to ride?  In the following weeks when she was not in the hospital, she would have to stay at home all week because she could not get around by herself.  On weekends, we would take an afternoon ‘trip’ to Walmart or Target or Costco where she would use one of their motorized wheelchairs to get around the store.  It was her only chance to get out for a little fresh air.  Yet some people would look at her like she was some type of criminal riding around

There are legitimate people who really do need assistance and we should never think twice about helping them.  However, all these people who scam the system for whatever reason make it bad for everyone else.  I know it may not be politically correct and I know most people are afraid to say something to someone else who they see and who might be doing something if not illegal, at least not moral.  Yet maybe if more people started to say something, fewer people might think of such scams as having no consequences.

C’ya next time.

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