DEAR MISS MANNERS: My dear friend of 40 years has a husband who is recently disabled and who now uses a handicapped parking placard that hangs from his rearview mirror.
When out together as couples, we have been dismayed to find that there are no handicapped spaces available at the restaurant or theater. We have all commiserated on what we feel is an abuse of handicapped spaces by the able-bodied.
Recently I drove this friend and two other friends to a garden/museum for what was to be an afternoon ladies' outing. As we drove by the handicapped spaces, my friend remarked, "It's a shame that I didn't bring hubby's placard in my purse -- we could have parked in a handicapped space."
I was shocked/disturbed by this comment and replied, "No, we would NOT have parked in a handicapped spot!"
Her response was, "That's ridiculous -- there are a hundred empty spaces!" (Obviously, an exaggeration.)
I then said, "I am sorry, but I don't care to be part of the problem."
My friend did drop the subject, but I wondered if there might have been a better way for me to have handled this.
GENTLE READER: Probably. What you said was justified, but Miss Manners fears that it is the way you said it that might have caused offense.
Perhaps something more along the lines of, "Surely, you do not want to contribute to the abuse of handicapped spaces that is causing this problem in the first place," would have resonated more deeply with your friend than being more severely reprimanded.