Etiquette is not Eartha Kitts’ brother.
Recently I was with a colleague who parked to run into a building. At that moment, I was focused on inputting something into my schedule, and didn’t realize that my colleague had pulled into a handicapped parking spot. Now, while this may not have been a crisis for many people, it was for me. First off, not only have I seen the Seinfeld episode when Jerry and his crew pull into a handicap parking spot, I actually use it to teach and explore ableism, as well as promote activism. In the episode, Kramer encourages George to park in the handicap spot because they won’t be in the Mall long. George succumbs to Kramer’s urging while Jerry is silent, and Elaine protests mildly. I am curious, which member of the Seinfeld crew reflects the action you would take? Why?
Now, as a diversity director and consultant, people act as if I am the diversity police. If they speak out of turn, or laugh at something they feel they shouldn’t have, they look at me as if I am going to frown upon them, or worse, judge them. It isn’t necessarily right, but it’s real! So, when I look up from my inputting, see the car sitting somewhat in front of the handicap parking sign, I freak out. I immediately jump out of the car, walk around to the driver’s side, and proceed to move the car, without permission from my friend. I then realize that I am facing an awkward situation. If I move the car, it can be construed as a statement about my friend’s judgment that may not be taken well. If I don’t move the car, and I am seen in it, I could look like a hypocrite. What should I have done? What would you do?
I moved the car and interestingly enough, as I was moving it, another one of my colleagues, someone whom I respect greatly and would not want to see me as a hypocrite was passing by. This person doesn’t miss a thing and noticed where I was parked as I was getting in to move the vehicle. What should I have said, if anything? What would you have said, if anything?