Don't Even Think of Parking There!


Earlier this month, my siblings and I were out on a daylong excursion with my mother. It was lunchtime, and we decided to go to local restaurant for our meal. We pulled into the plaza parking lot and my brother headed for the handicapped parking spot near the restaurant entrance, as my mother has a handicapped license plate. She can't walk very far at all without getting fatigued.

Unfortunately, the one accessible spot was taken. By a car with a regular license plate and no handicapped sticker. Was I ever pissed. But I became even more angry when the car's owner came bounding blithely out of a nearby store and trotted rapidly over to her car. Fuming, I went up to her car and tapped on the window. She rolled down the window and I said, "Do you see that elderly woman over there coming along slowly with the walker?" Yes, she said. "Well, that woman is my mother. And unlike you, she has a license that permits her to park in this spot."

Was the woman embarrassed? Did she apologize? Oh, heavens no! She immediately began spewing invective and curse words; I didn't know what she'd been through lately! I didn't know how rough her life was! Why, she'd had her hand in a cast till yesterday! I said, "Lady, I don't care if both your arms were in a cast till this morning. You don't have permission to park here, and your parking here has made my mother have to walk further than she should have."

I was so angry I was almost shaking. I'm mad at myself for not having the presence of mind to get her license plate number so I could report her to the cops.

I want you all to know that even though I am an atheist, I am quite sure you will burn in hell for all eternity if you park in a handicapped spot without the appropriate sticker or license plate. Do not even think of parking there. I will curse you for all eternity.

Do you know people who grumble about "how many" handicapped spots there are? Remind them that eventually, unless we die early, we are all going to get to the point of needing them. And when you need one, there are never enough of them, I can assure you. Especially when the able-bodied asshats are parking in them.

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Was it a private or public lot? In my hometown, my dad helped get an ordinance passed that allowed city cops to write tickets for handicapped spaces in private lots, such as at the mall and so on. Guess what? Those spaces are usually available for the people who need them. Like everything else, it comes down to enforcement.

For your future use, should it become necessary, here's a line a friend of mine has used with great effect when seeing someone who is obviously able bodied take a handicapped parking space. Usually spoken quite loudly, "Gee, he doesn't look handicapped. He must be retarded!"

" asshats" I like that; I think I'll borrow it from time to time!

By Matt Platte (not verified) on 10 Dec 2007 #permalink

Don't you wish you carried a 'boot' in your trunk? Attach it to the offending vehicle's wheel, then call the cops, and take a picture.

By Belsnickel (not verified) on 11 Dec 2007 #permalink

Next time, puke in their car.

I'm always outraged to see apparently able bodied people using those spaces without any handicapped signage on their vehicle. It's really sad that some people are so incredibly insenstive and I'm glad to hear that you called that woman on it.

Although most people recognize the need for handicapped parking, I couldn't believe the uproar when our local mall reserved some additional spaces (marked with a pink sign) adjacent to the handicapped spaces for pregnant women or parents with very young children. I thought this was a fantastic idea and was really glad to see them put in. Letters to the editor in the local paper however, suggested that many people aren't just lazy asshats unwilling to walk another 30ft but that they had no understanding of what a blessing those spots are to the people they're reserved for.

By mackrelmint (not verified) on 11 Dec 2007 #permalink

I am so glad to know that there are places where citizens have actually rallied to increase enforcement of the handicapped space parking rules! Yay!

Mack Relmint, I am right with you on the need for the parking spaces for parents w/small children at grocery stores.

One of my former colleagues at K-State once suggested that there ought to be a number of reserved parking spots on campus for parents with small children, as you frequently have to go on and off campus during the day - doctor appointments, crises at daycare, etc. - and parking is always a problem. If you had a very young child, you could apply for a permit that would allow you to park in one of the reserved spaces. It would help with the mad dash back to campus to teach a class after visiting the pediatrician.

Of course, this would require a world that cared about the shared social responsibility for reproducing the next generation.

Well, at least the spaces at the grocery store are a start.

Totally, totally agree.

HOWEVER this is a good time to remind people, that like Zuska, you should FIRST check if the car has the sticker on the plates or hanging from the rearview mirror.

I know several people who are invisibly disabled and really need those spots... mutiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, there are lots of ailments where you "look fine" on the outside and are dying inside. There are many well-intentioned people who start yelling and screaming at them at how they are using the spots when they shouldn't, because they don't check that the car has the tag before yelling. Then when my friends protest, they get the "BUT YOU LOOK JUST FINE" shit like they are liars.

So please people, DO yell at able-bodied asshats who use those spots but only AFTER you check the tags on the car. And don't second guess the invisibly disabled.

Ugh, seconding the don't second-guess the invisibly disabled. There's nothing like an endless parade of lunatics on the street screaming at you not to follow your doctor's orders.

For similar reasons, I have no patience with the "extra" reserved spots for pregnant women or for people with small children. There are plenty of us walking around with real needs for closer parking, but without handicap stickers for various reasons. Pregnant women and parents carting small children are in no way unique in that respect. If my local grocery started those, I'd park in them without hesitation.

I have to agree: before you yell at anyone, make sure there's no sticker hanging from the rearview mirror. You can't go just by the license plate. And never, ever question someone's disability if they have a sticker, just because you can't see a visible disability. Doctors don't issue the permission for those stickers willy-nilly. If you have one, you deserve it.

About the parking spots for people with young children or pregnant women: I see it as a gesture from society that says "we believe that the consuming task of raising children is important for all of society, and therefore we will do what things we can to help make that task easier." That person with the young kids parking in that special spot? His or her kids may be wiping my ass someday when I'm in the nursing home. Just because I don't have kids doesn't mean that the job of rearing children isn't important to me. Our society can't continue unless someone takes on that task, and our society needs to support those who do.

I realize you see it that way, but I also realize that I don't. I see it as discrimination against others who have needs for closer parking on a similar level to pregnant women and those carting small children -- it doesn't qualify for a disability sticker, or the person doesn't need it consistently enough that they want to use the disabled parking protocol when so many others need it more. There are a lot of us out there.

A few, "Please leave these spots for those who have a physical need for closer parking" spots would be fine. But the pregger-and-sproglet ones are discriminatory, and if I see them, I will cheerfully park in them.

Helen: I wonder if a better solution isn't going to be to lobby for a more inclusive definiton of "disability" (so that everyone who needs closer parking, even if not consistently, can get it)? Pregnant women can have physical difficult with walking long distances, and getting uncooperative toddlers past the dangers of a car park isn't the world's easiest task. (More to the point, I think, is the fact that parents with babies will need extra space for pushchairs next to the car, but anyway). That being the case, I don't think those spaces are discriminatory. What is discriminatory is that other people who physically need closer parking can't get it.

'Usually spoken quite loudly, "Gee, he doesn't look handicapped. He must be retarded!"'

Problem with that is that it reinforces prejudices against invisible disabilities and cognitive or developmental disabilities. Which kinda defeats the purpose of sticking up for disabled rights in the first place.


I think it helps to call them placard parking spaces, because they're really only for those with placards --not for people who self-evaluate their own condition as "having a really bad day" or "in such a hurry that I really need this spot." Some placard holders need close parking; some need flat/level parking and approach to stores; some need the wider space to lower a lift or load/unload a wheelchair; some need the space for other reasons (limiting exposure to sunlight, for example). Don't assume that someone with a placard that "looks okay" is a fraud.

The other thing that will win you a one-way ticket to damnation is parking on the blue stripes--DON'T. Just don't. Even if it's wide enough for your cute car, it's not a parking space. And your urgent need for Starbucks is not going to win my sympathy--I WILL run the sharpest part of my son's wheelchair over your sparkly new paint job if I have to, to get to him into the car. And then I'll take a picture of your car illegally parked, just in case you have a problem with the scratches. (Remember, camera phones are everywhere.)

Regarding able-bodied people taking up handicap parking spaces; I've maintained for several years now that public stonings and/or the pillory should be brought back into vogue. There are many, many aspects of society that would be thoroughly improved by public pillories. Or by mass-puking-on-of-the-shoes-of-an-offender (aka lynch puking). Whichever...either would catch the attention of the public amazingly well I think. Recidivism would likely go way down too (particularly in the case of stonings I suppose...)

Regarding reserved parking for pregnant women; in the third trimester of my second pregnancy I was striken with a condition called pubic symphysis dysplasia. The pubic bone normally looks almost fused because the two halves are tightly bound by very strong ligaments. In PSD, the ligaments drastically loosen, and the pubic bone parts (mine separated by over an inch).

Anyway, the upshot was that the two halves of my pelvis had several extra degrees of freedom that god never intended and it was *incredibly* painful to walk (or sit, or lie down, or whatever). I asked the doctor if I could get a handicapped parking placard, but apparently they don't give them out for "temporary" conditions.

So, don't underestimate the tolls that pregnancy takes on the body, especially for women in their third trimester. I am always very pleased when I occassionally come across reserved parking spaces for pregos. I don't need such spaces anymore, but I'm glad someone was thoughtful enough to take the needs of the heavily pregnant into account.

Reserved parking for people with small kids I'm not so keen on because I really can't see the point. And I've had (have) small kids, so I guess I could be considered an authority on the matter.

I also have nothing but contempt for those that take advantage of designated parking.

For my part, I not only don't park in them, I always park further out from buildings than I could, leaving extra parking spaces for others. I live in an area with many retirees and they need the closer spaces more than me.

And the extra walking is good for me anyway.

"Reserved parking for people with small kids I'm not so keen on because I really can't see the point. And I've had (have) small kids, so I guess I could be considered an authority on the matter."

I can see the point if the kids need to be carried or are being fussy and not behaving safely in the car park (and if you have to control a shopping trolley, a pushchair, and a child or children, all with just two hands and the kids are not being angels, then yes it can be tricky). I would be more keen, however, on reserved parking spaces that had some space next to them for pushchairs etc, rather than parking near the store *if* close parking is at the expense of disabled people.


*long string of expletives*

I *have* a disability (SSI-D and everything), but while it makes it hard for me to get out of the house, it does not make it impossible for me to walk an extra 30 feet.

I've spent much of the past week of people whose sense of self is so warped that they feel entitled to everything and this woman just reminds me that people in this country need to have their egos deflated.

Re: however

THANK YOU. While I absolutely agree about people abusing disabled parking spots, I've also spent over 15 years contending with asshats who think it's okay to abuse ME, despite the fact that I do have a permanent, legitimate handicapped placard for my car, because I "don't look sick". The glares are bad enough, but I've actually had people challenge me--including a cop!! And when I offer politely to show them my ID (not that it's any of their business) and how it matches up with the placard, they get even ruder, including said cop, who actually asked me (and I quote verbatim), "Does that mean you can just park wherever the fuck you want?"

I have two chronic illnesses and several attendant complications thereof. I'm in pain all the time, and usually very weak. And on top of that I'm supposed to feel bad because I LOOK GOOD?! WTF?!

Amusingly, when I lived with my perfectly healthy 90-something-year-old grandmother, nobody ever questioned us. Apparently being old but healthy gives you more right to use one of those spots than being young and severely ill.

By Jennifer Starkman (not verified) on 29 Jun 2010 #permalink