A woman whose health issues prompted her to park in a parent and child bay was left so ashamed by two critical onlookers that she bought them flowers to apologise.
Abbie Bush, from Norwich, was left regretting her reaction to the women after coming to the conclusion that she hadn't actually done anything wrong while she was making her way to breakfast with a friend on 19 January.
The 29-year-old has ulcerative colitis, a condition which makes the colon and rectum become inflamed, meaning she needs to use the toilet more frequently. It was as Abbie was going to meet her friend that she began to panic she might not make it to the toilet in time.
"My stomach started going," Abbie said. "I haven't felt great recently anyway. It's my instinct, I've got to get to the toilet right now."
The closest place Abbie could get to was Asda, so she quickly drove in and tried to park as close to the door as possible.
"I saw the parent and toddler space and drove straight into it," Abbie said.
The 29-year-old noted there were plenty more spaces available around her that other people could have used, so she put her disabled badge in the window and jumped out of the car.
As she did, she was spotted by two women who were getting a pushchair out of a car.
"One said 'isn't that a parent bay?' and I said 'absolutely but I'm desperate for the toilet and I have ulcerative colitis so I have to go now'," Abbie recalled.
"Then the other said I should have driven to a disabled bay and then made a sly dig about me not looking disabled."
Abbie said she felt 'terrible' at the situation, but had to run to the toilet. However, the women's reactions stayed with her, and she started to question whether she should have parked there.
"It was just the shock," she said. "I thought the only thing that would make the situation better was to apologise and say it wasn't out of ignorance or laziness. It was the fact that I had to go to the toilet. I couldn't find them so I left a note apologising."
Abbie left a bunch of flowers on the car alongside the apology, but it wasn't until she relayed the situation to her partner that she came to the belief she wasn't in the wrong.
She decided to speak out to make people aware that not all illnesses are visible, saying: "I absolutely regret apologising. Why on earth did I do that? It should have been them apologising to me for their sly comments. I don't look disabled but it's 2023.
"I would have understood if there were people waiting behind me or I was taking it up for someone else but I wasn't. All I could think about was getting to the toilet. The fact that they had parked already annoyed me even more."
Abbie said it isn't the first time she's received criticism and recalled once being heckled for stopping in a disabled bay despite having a badge.
"I've had a few sly digs before but nothing to this extent," she said, adding: "I got so upset."
Abbie received mixed responses after sharing her story, with some expressing hopes the women learned a lesson from their encounter with Abbie, while others argued Abbie should have parked in a disabled bay instead of a parent and child space.
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