The secret to happiness is low expectations
~ Barry Schwartz
[I] normally wouldn't agree with this statement. It seems like the defeatest's excuse to sit around moaning rather than trying to change the things in their life that they don't like. I hadn't counted on the ability of a traffic warden to piss me off quite as much as they did Friday evening though, and suddenly I'm wondering if there might be a shred of truth in the statement.
This is what I found as I came off the train at St Albans City train station having been discharged from Great Ormond Street hospital with a little boy who was not feeling very well. It's not really very surprising considering that he had been injected with glucagon that morning which had caused his blood sugar to crash. It all got a bit panicky for a while and then he spent the rest of the day swinging between hypoglycaemia (very low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (very high blood sugar). Great Ormond Street, which never has beds free, was concerned enough that they even found him a bed for another night and it took both Roger (who joined me to add a pair of testicles to my argument) and me until that evening to persuade the consultant to let us look after an improving Dominic at home. Things are inevitably never that simple though, and on the train journey back my feeling of victory over the situation was short lived when Dominic showed me an enormous wet patch on his t shirt. He was a nasty shade of grey and saying how tired he felt. Sod's law had decided to step in and make his feed leak out of his stomach and onto his clothes. It was a tad inconvenient timing considering that his blood sugar was so unstable and to say that I was relieved when the delayed train finally arrived back at St Albans train station was an understatement. My car was close to the station entrance, so I knew that I could bundle Dominic in and get him home to try and fix whatever needed to be fixed.
At St Albans train station there are 4 disabled bays that are there to serve the thousand odd disabled people of St Albans (and all the bastards who use them 'just for a minute'). As you can imagine, more often than not you cannot park there as there are considerably more than four disabled people living in St Albans who would like to use the trains. Both of the NCP controlled multi-story car parks close to the station have no disabled spaces and even if I parked across two bays so I could get Dominic out of the car, we then couldn't get out of the car park as it is stair access only. So what is a disabled person in St Albans to do? Well, I did the only sensible thing I could when we first had this problem, I asked, and was told by a sympathetic soul in the ticket office to park my car in the 20 minute only bay and display my badge. Which I did, adding a little note to the blue badge explaining that the disabled bays were all full. I've done this now for three years and all has been well. Until yesterday evening.
The reason that I drove home that night with my eyes tensed into two small slits, shoulders hunched over with white knuckles gripping the steering wheel, is that it just seemed so unfair. Unfair because it was a crappy thing to find when you're already having pretty rubbish day, and also unfair because the company that gave me a ticket was the one that controlled the car park that I was parked next to. Yes, next to. I did not steal a space from their paying customers, I did not jeopardise, affect, get in the way of or even roll a wheel onto the concrete that is the NCP multistory. Furthermore this is a car park that I am excluded from being able to park in as they don't have any disabled spaces and even if we did manage to park somewhere, there is only stair access to each floor (including the ground) so we wouldn't have been able to get out. This decidedly non-inclusive car park is run by the NCP for the train company First Capital Connect. One of their employees saw my car, parked as previously instructed, in the 20 minute waiting bay close to the disabled bays, displaying the blue badge clearly and decided to ticket it.
So, let's play devil's advocate for a second. Let's just assume that this ticket is completely valid and somehow the NCP car park rules are allowed to leak out into the surrounding road and they can apply rules to cars parked outside their property in the same way that they can to those on the inside (you know, actually using their property) even though their parking tickets don't seem to think that they count outside the actual car park.
Suspending our common sense for a second, lets imagine that this traffic warden is actually just doing their job diligently (and is in no way simply a miserable, friendless, jobs-worth-y bastard), where does this leave me next time I need to travel to London with Dominic? What am I meant to do when I arrive at the station to find all the four disabled spaces full, which happens approximately 90% of the time? There are no other places that I can obviously park and they haven't made the only two station car parks accessible. Are disabled people really meant to just think, 'oh well, better luck next time' and go home? This one ticket has posed a real problem for me that extends beyond the simple parking ticket (that I will of course contest) and it undoubtedly poses a problem that will make our lives considerably harder in the future. We travel to Great Ormond street a lot and I don't know what I'll do the next time I arrive at the station to find the disabled bays full. So I'll throw the question out to you. If you were in my situation, arriving to find the disabled bays full, knowing you might get another ticket for parking in the 20 minute wait bay, but with a hospital appointment to get to, what would you do?
I can honestly say that my expectations of First Capital Connect and NCP car parks have been lowered with no effort on my part. But am I happy? I'll let you decide.
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To learn more about the reasons that I started the Define 'Normal' blog hop click here. If you would like to join in the blog hop and tell us what your normal is like click on the link below and follow the instructions to add a link to your post. The subject of your entry is up to you, anything goes, show us a photo, a picture, dust off an old post that talks about any aspect of your normal life. All I ask is that you link back to this post or duplicate the linky in your post to make sure the entries get as many views as possible. Don't forget to tell us all on twitter using #definenormal and feel free to post your link on my Facebook page once you've linked up!
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Last week's amazing entries
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