By Diane McCarthy at the Whakatane Beacon
Whakatāne resident Tony Hyde has put his hand up regarding writing a note that caused offence to a mobility card-holder earlier this month.
However, he told the Whakatane Beacon he did not put it on Judi Tucker's windscreen.
On September 1, Tucker returned to her car, which was parked in a mobility card-holder's space in the carpark at New World Whakatane, to find a handwritten note on her window.
The note said, "Thank you for parking in a disabled car park. May the fleas of a thousand camels invade your armpits and your arms be to short to scratch".
This offended Tucker, not least because she was displaying a mobility card quite clearly on her windscreen at the time.
The Beacon ran a story about the incident, which was shown to Hyde by a friend who recognised his mate's handiwork.
Hyde's wife, Shirley, also has a mobility card. She has a mitochondrial condition that causes extreme fatigue and has forced her to use a wheelchair.
Hyde said the main reason the couple needed the special car parks was because they were wider, and allowed him to get his wife's wheelchair out of the car, and her into it, safely.
He said it was practically impossible to do so in a normal-sized car park space.
Shirley said they frequently found their access to shops and other services disrupted by people without the cards parking in the spaces allocated for them.
"I was fit and active just two years ago. I have had a real battle to accept that I need [a wheelchair] so this is just one more hurdle for me."
She said other people with disabilities needed the parks close to shops because walking was a struggle for them.
"Having to walk that extra distance can cause them to have to use up a lot more energy and put them in a lot of pain."
Because they come across cars parked in the disabled parks about two or three times a month, Hyde has taken to keeping a few of the notes in his car, which are intended to be a humorous reminder, rather than to be offensive.
On the day in question, he had run out and so went into New World and wrote out a note by hand.
He said the car he put the note on definitely did not have a mobility card on display and he believes the person in that car took the note off their car and placed it on Tucker's.
"I normally carry some printed ones with a cartoon picture of a camel on it, but because this happens so often, I'd run out. I popped into New World and wrote one up and stuck my little note on the other car, which didn't have a mobility card on it.
"I certainly didn't mean to upset anyone. I didn't think it was offensive. I thought it was a funny way to bring someone's attention to the fact that these car parks are for disabled people. I guess I've just got a twisted sense of humour.
"But obviously some people have taken offence to it, particularly this lady as she had a mobility card. I do, unreservedly apologise to her."