When I drove this week to a local flea market to meet a friend who was bringing me some wood, I encountered a woman and a younger woman who seemed to be her daughter. Because their large, loaded pickup truck was parked in a handicap spot, I inquired why they, two able bodied people unloading many items they were moving into the flea market, were parked in a spot reserved for handicapped people. The older woman showed me a hang tag used by some handicapped folks. As I looked at her walking and unloading a large amount of “stuff”, I told her I doubted her need for such a spot. Her response was a challenging, “How do you know I don’t have a heart condition?” As I watched them unload more items, her daughter remarked, “It doesn’t matter.” As a wheelchair user I differ with the woman and her daughter, and I dialed the Mooresville Police non-emergency number, and the older woman hopped into her large truck and moved it.
Since early November we have been working with the natural gas company to connect a generator to our home. Things have moved slowly and not always well: Electrical lines were not properly connected. The permit number was not reported to Iredell County government. The lines connecting the generator and new water heater were not correctly installed. A water line was left dripping in a bathroom, and it took days before the gas company returned to correct the error. On and on the saga goes.
Yesterday the lawn company came and, using those loud and noisy blowers, piled all the pine needles, pine cones, and dead tree limbs next to the road. Later in the day two workers came and used a large vacuum-truck to collect all the debris. This morning while riding my stationary bike, I noticed several large, dead limbs lying in the drainage ditch. The workers had piled them there because they could not be thrown into the vacuum. While I appreciate that the workers are mindful of the company’s equipment, I wish they had been aware of the need for the drainage ditch to be open so that water would flow freely.
These three incidents happened in one week, and I think the words of the young woman at the flea market shout out in our present cultural attitude of “It doesn’t matter.”
I admit to certain areas of sensitivity: I am annoyed by two people who are able to unload a packed truck but park in a handicapped parking space. I am irritated by trained craftsmen such as electricians who are sloppy in their work. I resent having to clean up after any workman who is being paid to do a good job.
The young woman (daughter?) at the flea market said, “It doesn’t matter” more than once. Perhaps she was wanting to de-escalate what she saw as anger between the older woman and me. While I can’t speak for the older female, I was irritated, but not angry. Too often in my seventeen years of wheelchair life, I have suffered such self-serving people who use a handicapped space, even after they have wangled a hang-tag from some doctor. I have learned not to get angry, but to challenge the driver if I can. However, what concerns me are those three words of the young woman.
She appeared to be in her early to mid-20s and was a good helper. But her attitude as expressed by her three words is wrong. It (no matter the task) does matter. And our lives are filled with tasks. In fact, our living is a task that, like all tasks, should be done as well as possible. We should never believe that “It doesn’t matter,” because if we do, then we are taking the easy way and if the greatest man who ever lived had said, “It doesn’t matter,” we would be doomed.