Annieta: Detroit, September 2010

01/10/2014 03:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


I enter the parking garage's front office to make a complaint about a food delivery person who improperly parked in the disabled area. I tell the young lady in the office that disabled placards or plates are for drivers who are actually disabled or when the disabled person is being driven, but are not to be used when the disabled person is not driving or being transported. She says that she has a disabled tag for an older relative and that in Michigan, it is legal to use it for parking in a blue space even without the disabled person. "That's not right." I say. "You're denying the space to someone who really needs it." She maintains her position. "C'mon," I say, "You know better than that!" Even though she still maintains that it's okay, I can see her thinking about this. The next day, I see her making sure that someone parking in the disabled zone is legitimate, and from this point on she always comes over and makes sure I have a space. One time when she's in the rover truck she sees me entering the garage and swings back around to help me find a space. The day before I'm set to leave Detroit, I stop in the office and we chat. "I get up at 5:30 every morning and don't get home till after midnight. I work here and I'm going to school to be a pharmacy technician so I can make more money with less hours and spend time with my daughter," she says. "What's your daughter's age?" I ask. "She's 6." "Going on?" "Going on 30... just the other day she was talking about school and asked me 'Mom, why are the children so noisy?' Every weekend we get dressed up and have a formal tea together." "Wow, that's great," I say. She tells me she's the fourth of eight children herself, the only one with a "non-normal" name, that she takes care of her older sister as well, who has health and mobility complications. I ask if I can make a small contribution to her gasoline fund. She accepts and I give her something from my wallet. We hug. I ask if we can make a picture and she says "Yes... I still want to be a movie star." "I think it's important for your daughter to see you keeping your dream alive." And this person behind the glass window wearing the company jacket with whom I started out disagreeing has now become a friend.