Matt Milstead is a 36-year-old professional, married, living in Michigan with a wife, a nice car and enjoys playing competitive team sports. He has a full life and is also a quadriplegic.
Recently, while parked in a handicapped space at the YMCA, Milstead came out after playing some wheelchair rugby and found a note on his windshield that made broad assumptions about his life and questioned his right to use the designated space.
The nasty missive read:
“I would love to see your wheelchair! I’m guessing male 25-35 years professional who thinks he’s got the world by the ass. But I could be wrong.”
Matt shrugged it off but his wife Leslie became angry. Because the hate-filled note was anonymous, she decided to post on Facebook in reply:
You were so close on the age, he’s actually 36, and he is a professional with a full time job. He is also a quadriplegic, which for him means that he can no longer move his legs or his fingers in either hand. He has no grip. So, if you are willing to give him your functioning hands and legs for the rest of your life in exchange for his 6-year-old BMW and handicapped parking pass, I’m sure he’d make that trade. Why are you so confident that a handicapped person couldn’t be a hard worker who is successful and owns a nice vehicle?
The problems contained in this one interaction are many. There is no face-to-face dialogue. Harsh assumptions are made by someone who is upset over a parking spot at the gym.
Our nation is too angry. Period. People are demonized and stereotyped and kept at a distance. Citizens are becoming more divisive instead of united.
As the Milsteads point out, Matt would gladly trade mobility for convenient places to park the car. They posit that by trying to communicate to the man who questioned his right to park close to the entrance she and Matt can hope to abate “vigilante” parking lot justice.
Let’s show mercy and kindness and not judge until all, at least most of the facts are known.
Watch a local news report on the story in the video below.