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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Handicap Placards and New Car Purchase in Summer's Heat

Metro West is a low land cauldron of summer heat. Air conditioners drone as the heat and humidity compete for what little oxygen is left in the atmosphere. People move slowly and perspire just the same. We take refuge in our ramshackle house that does not know what style it is and is perpetually in renovations. Walls knocked down in order to be able to see her at all times and get to her quickly if she is choking. Doorways widened to accommodate the "chair" and all windows and cabinets with lead removed. She already has brain damage - why add to the problem. Still it is our home - ours. Our refuge from the heat and outside world. It is quiet and accommodating and filled with the good vibes of happy past inhabitants. Babies born in the downstairs tub. Hand prints of children in the foundation. Nicks in the door frame from forbidden inside ball games. All happy bits of laughter and love haunting our house with a great benevolence. We are peaceful here.

The winds of change are blowing a cooler wind our way. This week we were able to acquire a car that will fit "the chair" and allow all the discs in my back to stay in place while getting her and out of the car. Now I sit higher on the road when I drive and in doing so feel less back pain. It took 7 months to get the handicap placard. The clerk at the RMV told me when I called after the customary month that the website says it will take that they were running two months behind and to call in two weeks. She said that they were usually two months behind. So I called two weeks later and another clerk told me that there was no record of the paper work. This put me over the edge. The RMV makes it a bit difficult for a handicap person or caretaker of such a person to get a handicap placard. First, you have to get a signed form from your doctor. This I have no problem with. But I do have a problem with the fact that it expires after one month. So tell you doctor not to date it. I got my first form signed by my child's doctor in December and then my child got sick and we were house bound. By the time I could have gone to the RMV it had expired. So I started again. So that is the first thing wrong. In February, I brought my daughter down, forms in hand only to be turned away by the clerk who jotted down the number of the medical advisory office and said I would have to come back to get the picture taken in another month once I was sent a letter telling me to come down. OK - a disabled person has to go to the RMV TWICE in order to access handicap parking spaces that were created for them! That is ridiculous. I should have right then and there asked to speak to a manager.

After one more month I called and that is when the clerk told me all of my child's records were lost. This is when I really got mad. I asked to speak to a manager. I communicated to her my story of woo in a near hysterical but strangely crystal clear coherent raised voice. She told me the clerk should have never turned us away when we went down there. I could hear an older man in the back ground expressing his outrage at our situation in a gravelly Boston accent in the background. In the end I had to have my doctor fill out the forms for the third time and fax them to this manager. She alerted the RMV that I would be coming down again and told me to ask for the manager when I arrived. I did so and upon arrival and a 2 minute wait they took Ellie's picture right away. We were out of there in 20 minutes. The placard arrived two days later. So there is some humanity in the RMV - you just have to find it.

For all parents of a disabled child - know this: if you have a handicap placard and you are buying a larger car to accommodate your child and all their equipment needs the law exempts you from paying sales or excise taxes. You will need your doctor to sign the RMV form 33 and bring it with you when you purchase the car. And if the dealer tells you they have never heard of it they are ignorant. Here is the link to that webpage:

The only reason we knew about this was because another parent of a disabled child told us. Take advantage of this!

Ok - there is my rant for the day regarding the RMV.