Is American culture hanging on the rear-view mirror?

By Dee Armstrong

American culture has been in the spotlight for decades, mainly because it’s constantly changing. The bare foundation of our core values appears to be crumbling.

Lately, I’ve observed one example of this crumbling. It may be a simple and insignificant example, but I believe it may represent a much broader disintegration of society. You might even see my example as frivolous, but I see it as a warning sign of mindlessness and fading out of common sense (which is becoming more and more UNCOMMON).

I’ve seen many people driving with their “Disabled Persons Parking Identification Permit,” more commonly known as a handicap placard, hanging on their rear-view mirror. There’s only ONE instruction on the permit. It states that you should NOT drive with the permit. It’s dedicated to parking only. The instruction is only five simple words. “IMPORTANT: REMOVE BEFORE DRIVING VEHICLE.”

Driving with the permit indicates of one of three things (my opinion, of course):

First, the person doesn’t know how to read. In this case, obviously, they shouldn’t be driving at all.

Second, the person can read but has neglected to read the permit’s one and only instruction. I’m sure some will say, “I didn’t know.” Tell that to the police when they catch you going down a one-way street the wrong way or doing 55 mph in a 35 zone. How about the instruction at the gas pump that tells you not to sit in your car while the gas is pumping–oh, and to NOT SMOKE!

Third, the person has read the instructions but chooses to ignore them. These folks have no respect for instructions. Do they ignore instructions on a prescription drug or OTC medicine? Do they ignore the speed limit signs? Very likely. I bet they spewed a lot of nasty verbiage when trying to put together the barbeque grill or their kid’s bike or swing set. Ignoring instructions, just like ignoring the law, isn’t very smart. Again, in my opinion.

Regardless of the reason, these drivers are driving unsafely. The placard creates a blind spot. Where? Right in the middle of the windshield—a critical field of view, don’t you think? I’d hate to read about a driver with a permit who caused another person to become handicapped, or worse, due to that blind spot. Geez, maybe that’s why the instruction says to remove the placard before driving. Ya think?

Driving a car is like holding a loaded gun. The operator (not the gun or the car) can harm or kill if he or she is reckless or mindless. Driving deliberately with a blind spot on your windshield is both reckless and mindless. The placard acknowledges a physical handicap and the need for a parking accommodation. It doesn’t accommodate a mental handicap or a driving accommodation. Those who insist on driving with the placard on their mirror should be held accountable, particularly if it’s hanging on that mirror at the scene of an accident.

And, as an afterthought, whatever did our parents and grandparents do before the handicap placard? They found a way to get by. Today, those deemed eligible to have such a placard should be respectful of it and grateful for it. I know my husband is just that. He won’t even use the permit if he’s feeling pretty good. He figures he’ll leave that handicap parking spot for someone who’s struggling more than he is that day. He uses the permit when he’s having a bad day, and he’s grateful that all his days aren’t bad.

In the big picture, I see this disregard for others, this disrespect for rules, and this inattention to detail as the crumbling of our American culture. I hope this little example will serve as a wake-up call to those who need it and are smart enough to learn from it—without suffering consequences first. In my winter years, I’ve finally come to understand, first-hand, that learning from others’ mistakes is a lot easier than learning from my own mistakes! A whole lot less painful indeed.

Be safe, stay informed, and thanks for reading!

© 2019 Dee Armstrong All Rights Reserved

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