So this past weekend I was at the local Publix and I saw a car pull into a handicapped parking spot without a handicapped license plate or rearview mirror placard. A younger person hopped out of the car, ran into the store and there was nobody else in the car. Since he was running, I’m assuming he was going to be in and out in just a few minutes.
It’s hard to miss the blue and white handicapped parking signs, lines and symbols and I have to say… this is a pet peeve of mine. Although I’m just curious, I don’t understand why people do it. I do like to give people the benefit of the doubt for whatever reason, as you just don’t know their circumstances. Are they in that much of a hurry where they can’t park further away, walk and be a few minutes late to wherever they’re going? Perhaps they just didn’t put the placard on the mirror? Or just maybe they’re on crutches, have some sort of emergency and need something from the pharmacy… to each their own.
Simply put I feel people who don’t have the appropriate identification and are healthy enough to walk a few yards shouldn’t park in handicapped spots. And I would never approach someone and say something to that person and wouldn’t advise anybody doing so as you just don’t know how people may react if confronted. Handicapped spots, like “stork parking,” exist for a very specific reason and people depend on them. Granted parking in spots marked for expectant or new mothers when you’re not either cannot be legally enforced, I do hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to convey. By the way, I think “stork” parking is a fantastic idea and I wouldn’t park there either… although I’ve seen people do it.
Given some thought, I’m certain we can all think of at least one person we know that is handicapped. I have many clients and know several people that are disabled including a fellow in our church’s men’s club (The Men of Holy Family) that is confined to a wheel chair. It disheartens me a little at the thought of any of them not having access to this invaluable resource. I could try to empathize with them although it would be hard to do as I’m not disabled, but I can imagine that the simple things we take for granted can make a larger impact on their day than ours.
Interestingly enough, when you Google “Handicapped Parking Abuse” the first four states on the search are Florida, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts where I understand the abuse is more rampant than most other states. And there are plenty of blogs, websites and other social media outlets discussing the fraud and abuse surrounding the matter including the following subjects and resources:
- Information available at http://www.ada.gov
- Healthy people illegally obtaining handicapped placards.
- Crime sprees where people smash windows and take them.
- Some states not requiring that placards be turned in after they’re no longer needed.
- Difficulty in police clearly identifying a “handicapped” vehicle.
I don’t know what’s involved in getting a handicapped-parking permit and I’m certainly not trying to start a political debate of any kind. Indeed there is a documented process for vetting applications and it makes sense to me that a prerequisite of getting approved for a handicapped-parking permit would be medical validation. That particular department of the government has people just trying to do their job and follow procedures just like you and I.
So what do you do if you see someone parked in a handicapped parking spot? Again, I wouldn’t recommend approaching them. And if it’s a parking spot at some sort of retail store or public place they will likely be gone before the police arrive. Now, if the violation is a habitual offender in a residential area or other establishment where the car is likely to be parked there for a while, you could notify the police or parking enforcement for that venue. You could also report that person to the local DMV or http://www.handicappedfraud.org with all of the vehicle and violation information. I think there is even “an app for that.” Personally, I choose to believe in karma… it can be a funny thing.
Karma as defined by Merriam-Webster:
- The force created by a person’s actions that is believed in Hinduism and Buddhism to determine what that person’s next life will be like. The force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person.
- In Indian philosophy, the influence of an individual’s past actions on his future lives or reincarnations. It is based on the conviction that the present life is only one in a chain of lives (see samsara). The accumulated moral energy of a person’s life determines his or her character, class status, and disposition in the next life. The process is automatic, and no interference by the gods is possible. In the course of a chain of lives, people can perfect themselves and reach the level of Brahma, or they can degrade themselves to the extent that they return to life as animals. The concept of karma, basic to Hinduism, was also incorporated into Buddhism and Jainism.
Although I’m not Hindu or a Buddhist, I’d just assume reach Brahma rather than coming back as a rodent of some type. I just believe in doing the right thing (personally and professionally) regardless of how trivial the matter i.e. help someone change a tire or jumpstart their car, civic responsibility through volunteer efforts or returning the shopping cart to the cage. Grandpa always said if it’s on and you’re finished with it turn if off and return it from where you got it.
When it comes down to it I’m thankful I have my health… as should we all. A little walking and exercise never hurt any one. I’m fairly confident that each and every disabled person (if given the choice) would rather be healthy and able-bodied. I’ll just park in the back of the parking lot and walk, perhaps see a handicapped parking abuser on the way and just know that karma is watching. You know what they say about karma right… occasionally karma let’s us watch when karma pays it forward.
And as with anything I write… my hope is that you’ll be able to take away just one thing that will help you or give you an idea of your own.
BY: Cory Prado