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Misuse of a disability sticker on a close friend triggers moral dilemma

Misuse of a disability sticker on a close friend triggers moral dilemma

Dear Eric, I have a very close friend who lives in “parking-challenged” Los Angeles and uses a handicapped parking sticker out of sheer convenience.

He first received this permit over 10 years ago from his orthopedic surgeon when he had hip replacement surgery. The permit will be automatically reissued to him without him having to prove that he still needs it. He has done nothing to change this, but I find this distasteful and it lowers my opinion of him. I am a doctor and in my state (Illinois) the issuing of permits for the disabled is strictly regulated. Should I speak to him about it?

– Sticker shock

Dear Sticker: You should speak your mind for the sake of your friendship. This will continue to fester. You may be wondering if there are other areas where you and your friend view morality differently and what that might mean. This may not necessarily destroy your friendship, but keeping your thoughts to yourself will only make them bigger.

Now, your friend may actually have a reason for still needing the permit that you may not know about. They are under no obligation to tell you about their medical condition and you shouldn’t push for it, but be open to the possibility that it isn’t just out of convenience. None of us should ever judge someone for using a disability permit just because they don’t “look disabled.”

However, if it is for convenience, he might view this as a victimless offense, which is not technically true. If he is parked in the last handicapped parking space, where is a person with limited mobility supposed to park?

You don’t have to get into a political debate with your friend. Some might argue that the city of Los Angeles is to blame for not properly regulating their parking stickers.

OK, fine. That’s neither here nor there in your friendship. We owe it to our friends and to society to “hold them accountable” when we see them doing something that could harm themselves or others.

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Send questions to R. Eric Thomas at [email protected] or PO Box 22474, Philadelphia, PA 19110. Follow him on Instagram and sign up for his weekly newsletter at rricthomas.com.