In a scathing clip, a Paralympic swimmer took to TikTok to call out a woman who had allegedly criticized her for parking in a handicapped spot.
On Jan. 13, 28-year-old Jessica Long, a decorated swimmer who won one gold, three silver and two bronze medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, slammed the nameless person for assuming that she had no right to the space.
“So, it just happened again,” she says in the TikTok. “I was parking my car — and I hope she sees this — this woman just has the nerve to look me up and down disgusted that I parked in the handicapped spot.”
Long then holds up her handicapped parking sign.
“I don’t have legs, so that’s kind of what I told her — which I don’t even need to tell her,” she says. “But she just kind of rolled down her window and proceeded to be like, ‘You shouldn’t park there.’ I was just like, ‘Okay, I’m an amputee. I don’t have legs. That’s why I’m parked in the handicapped [space]. That’s why I have the handicapped pass. And she kind of just drove off.”
The swimmer goes on to talk about how her experience isn’t an isolated one and pleads for people to be more understanding.
“This happens a lot,” Long says. “I was never bullied as a kid, and I didn’t know that I was going to be bullied by adults because I park in handicapped. And I get it — I’m young and athletic — but I’m also missing legs. And I know I make it look easy, but it’s still really hard. My legs are heavy. They hurt me. I’m in pain … So to all the handicap police out there, just be kind. You don’t need to know why someone’s parked in handicapped — and yeah, just be kind.”
Long’s TikTok has since received over 648,000 likes and nearly 11,000 comments.
“Adults can be more of a bully [than] kids can be,” one person acknowledged.
“I seriously can’t stand those people who assume!” another wrote. “Who are these people questioning people for things they’re not even open to understanding.”
“I don’t get the current mindset of everyone thinking they need to police others,” a third added.“Yes, everyone needs to just be kind.”
In a recent piece for Rooted in Rights, writer Rachel Carrington similarly discussed her experience with being criticized for parking in a handicapped spot despite having a right to that space.
“We could wince every time we move, cry out in pain as we walk through a store, or huff and puff loudly so people will notice and appreciate that we are, in fact, disabled,” she wrote. “But most of us just want to live our lives the best we can without having to prove anything. We don’t want to have to worry about whether or not some stranger thinks we’re gaming the system.”
If you found this story insightful, read about the Paralympic medalist who coached a toddler’s first walk with a prosthetic leg.