Author Topic: Confronted handicapped parking abuse  (Read 12053 times)

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JeanFromBNA

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Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« on: January 22, 2014, 03:29:09 PM »
A thread in the Coffee Break folder got me thinking about what happened a month ago.  I went to our local organic/health food market to pick up lunch.  It's a busy market, but I have always been able to find a parking space.  The farthest are probably 200' from the door.  The market has two or three handicapped spaces next to the door that are clearly marked. 

There was a SUV in the handicapped parking space closest to the door.  I looked for handicapped plates or a hang tag, and it didn't have any.  A woman was unloading empty five-gallon jugs that go on water coolers from the backseat.  Her very young daughter was standing next to the car.

I said, "Excuse me, Ma'am.  You're parked in a handicapped space."

She said, "So?"

I said, "There are a lot of handicapped people who come to this store.  They might need them."

She said, "Are you the police?"

I replied, "No."

She said, "You got a problem with that?"

I hesitated, but said, "Yes."

She seemed surprised by my answer, and turned back toward her vehicle and continued to unload her things, while saying that I needed to "mind my own business."  I went in the store and grabbed lunch.  My shopping trip took no more than five minutes. When I got to my truck, I called the police non-emergency number and reported the illegal parker.  I didn't stick around to see if the police showed up.

My neighborhood has undergone gentrification, which picked up steam in the last ten years.  Formerly cheap housing in a sketchy area of town has become desirable and trendy.  I think that we have a culture clash of experience and expectations.  We have a large population of disabled and elderly who actually need handicapped spots.  Unfortunately we have a growing number of residents and visitors who seem to think of their own convenience first, often at the expense of others.  This has resulted in free parking being converted to paid parking, and store owners engaging towing services for those parked illegally on their property.  Handicapped parking abuse is rampant. 

I could have gone to the store management, but stores have been unwilling to deal with this problem (I have reported it a couple of times in the past few years).  I can understand their point of view:  they don't want their patrons to feel uncomfortable, or they'll shop somewhere else.

How could I have handled this better?  I was mad at myself for not thinking this all the way through.  Should I have MYOB?

poundcake

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2014, 03:41:51 PM »
Maybe. It's highly unlikely a person illegally using a handicapped space will, upon confrontation, suddenly realize "Whoah. I'm an entitled jerk! I better move my car!" and thank you for making them aware of it.

Instead, report it, perhaps even unobtrusively snapping a pic of the car in the spot with the license plate visible.

Arila

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2014, 03:46:26 PM »
Instead, report it, perhaps even unobtrusively snapping a pic of the car in the spot with the license plate visible.

Evil Arila says: In this situation, I might have been tempted to pull out my phone and very obviously taken several photos of her, her license plate, etc. Maybe 1:1 shame doesn't work, but the prospect of being on the internet................ /Evil Arila...

Julsie

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2014, 03:52:48 PM »
I share your frustration and outrage.  I really do.  But I doubt it would have occurred to me to be the tag inspector in the first place.  But if I had noticed no tag I might have assumed that it was sitting on her passenger seat.  You're not supposed to drive with them hanging from the rear view mirror.

I might also have assumed that she just forgot it.  That happened to me when I had a temporary hang tag.  I used it in my husband's car one day and forgot to switch it back to mine.  Then I went somewhere and realized that I didn't have it with me.  I didn't park in a handicapped spot, though, because I was more worried about being harassed by a passer-by.

Knitterly

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 03:59:09 PM »
I think in this case you should have minded your own business and called the non-emergency line first.

It's one thing to have an official organization do something officially and check for proper placards.  It is quite something else for the general populace to take it upon themselves to confront what they believe to be unethical behaviour.

She was rude to misuse the space.  You were ruder to confront.  Isn't it often said here that calling out rude behaviour can be just as rude?

When it comes to situations like these, I remember very well an incident that involved my mother.  She called someone out who "didn't look handicapped" for using a disabled parking space.  Turns out she just hadn't seen his placard, and he silenced her by lifting up his pant leg slightly to show her the prosthetic limb underneath.  She was horribly embarrassed (and rightfully so).  In trying to do a good deed, she put her nose where it didn't belong.

It doesn't matter if the official channels seem useless.  The official channels are the way to go.  You were right to call the emergency line, but that is the only thing you should have done.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 04:00:48 PM by Knitterly »

strawbabies

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 03:59:41 PM »
I wouldn't have confronted her at all (you never know who turns out to be crazy), but just called the non-emergency police number.  Perhaps getting a ticket will teach her not to do that. 

Miss March

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 04:00:31 PM »
There is now an 'app' for submitting reports on unmarked vehicles who are parked in handicapped spaces.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/using-an-app-to-report-handicap-parking-violations/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good bye so hard.-- Winnie the Poo

MrTango

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 04:01:53 PM »
I wouldn't have confronted her at all (you never know who turns out to be crazy), but just called the non-emergency police number.  Perhaps getting a ticket will teach her not to do that.

This what I would also do.

VorFemme

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 04:09:13 PM »
There is now an 'app' for submitting reports on unmarked vehicles who are parked in handicapped spaces.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/using-an-app-to-report-handicap-parking-violations/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Once there is "an app for that" - you know it's a real issue with a real solution.

Slight eye roll here.  I learned in my late twenties that someone who might LOOK healthy could still have something like a bad heart, a bad back, or nerve damage....so I gave up confronting people.  I have never had a handicapped tag - although I have dropped off someone who just had both knees replaced close to the shuttle service location before parking the car at the OTHER end of the parking lot at Disneyworld. 
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

JeanFromBNA

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 04:14:51 PM »
Knitterly, I wouldn't presume to judge who is handicapped "enough." I've had to use the spaces and placards to get elderly folks in wheelchairs into and out of medical appointments and the store.  She had no tags, nor a hangtag. 

Her vehicle stood out to me.  I don't "inspect tags" every time I go somewhere.

shhh its me

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2014, 04:23:14 PM »
   I think it could be polite to say "Are you aware this is handicapped space?"   whatever the answer is though I don't think its should go any further.  Excluded reporting to the police as necessary.   She didn't leave the car yet , the hang tag could still be in her purse/glove box. I know unlikely but to me the logical conclusion is  that until a handicapped person hangs their tag (while still with their car) they can be questioned by every passer by and that would be perfectly polite even if it happened a dozen times a day. 

I support really tough fines and tenacious patrolling of handicapped spaces.   (seriously I'd rather a city generate funds by issuing handicapped parking tickets then operating speed traps*)

I'm not sure what would happen if a handicapped person forgot their hang tag? (obviously in a car without a plate)

* I don't mean in areas where there are speed related accidents. I mean speed traps...... roads that inexplicably drop from 45 to 30 and then 400 feet later go back to 45 . With no change to road , the surroundings, not a school zone  etc.

Knitterly

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 04:35:10 PM »
Knitterly, I wouldn't presume to judge who is handicapped "enough." I've had to use the spaces and placards to get elderly folks in wheelchairs into and out of medical appointments and the store.  She had no tags, nor a hangtag. 

Her vehicle stood out to me.  I don't "inspect tags" every time I go somewhere.

But her tag, as someone else said, may have been on her backseat.  It really is a matter for the store owners or police to deal with.  By confronting her, you were making a judgement that she ought not to have been in that space because she was not disabled, not realizing that her disability may have been invisible and her placard may have been on her back seat or in her glove compartment and not yet put out.


The extent of your involvement should only have been to call the non-emergency line, not to confront her about not using the space.

   I think it could be polite to say "Are you aware this is handicapped space?"   whatever the answer is though I don't think its should go any further.  Excluded reporting to the police as necessary.   She didn't leave the car yet , the hang tag could still be in her purse/glove box. I know unlikely but to me the logical conclusion is  that until a handicapped person hangs their tag (while still with their car) they can be questioned by every passer by and that would be perfectly polite even if it happened a dozen times a day. 

I support really tough fines and tenacious patrolling of handicapped spaces.   (seriously I'd rather a city generate funds by issuing handicapped parking tickets then operating speed traps*)

I'm not sure what would happen if a handicapped person forgot their hang tag? (obviously in a car without a plate)

* I don't mean in areas where there are speed related accidents. I mean speed traps...... roads that inexplicably drop from 45 to 30 and then 400 feet later go back to 45 . With no change to road , the surroundings, not a school zone  etc.

In this case, they go down to the centre where they are to pay their fine and produce their tag.

I feel very much like confronting anyone about parking is like confronting anyone about shovelling their snow.  Or confronting any stranger about any issue.  Confronting any stranger is neither safe nor recommended. 

Several people on my street fail to shovel the sidewalk in front of their house with 24 hours of a snowfall.  It makes me positively batty because it keeps me housebound with Little Knit (really hard to maneouver a stroller over 6"-12" of snow).  There's a stringently applied law in the city about snow shovelling within 24 hours and it is stringently enforced and there are ads all over the city about it.  But I can't go knocking on doors asking people to shovel their snow, even under the pretense of wanting to save them a fine.  It's not my place or my business as I am neither the police nor a bylaw officer.

I make a note of the home and call the city reporting line and report it.  They send an officer up to warn or ticket the offender (and the tickets can get pretty darn expensive - up to $2500).

The same rule applies to disabled parking.  It is not the place of anyone in the general populace to scold or question a stranger.  It is their place, duty, and responsibility to call the non-emergency reporting line and report it.  If a particular place is frequently reported, you can be sure bylaw will start sending officers to hang around.
They do that around the local university.  You can't park 2 minutes in the wrong spot without Bylaw officers issuing a ticket.  And that came about because neighbourhoods got together and started calling Bylaw every time there was a parking infraction.

lowspark

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2014, 04:57:03 PM »
Quote
Confronting any stranger is neither safe nor recommended. 

<snip>
 It's not my place or my business as I am neither the police nor a bylaw officer.


This is where I stand. I'm just afraid that confronting someone like this can be a case of "engaging the crazy". I just don't think that my saying anything is going to cause them to suddenly start obeying the law... if indeed they are breaking it.

There are some disabled people on this site. I wonder where they stand on this issue.

m2kbug

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2014, 04:58:47 PM »
She was using one empty space of three empty spaces?  Was it truly necessary to confront her?  You did confront her and the reaction received is about what I would expect.  I think this is best left to authorities, and stay out of it otherwise.  Call the non-emergency number to report violations.     

Figgie

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Re: Confronted handicapped parking abuse
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2014, 05:37:44 PM »
As someone who needs a wheelchair, I would really appreciate it if people just called the authorities if they think someone is parking in a handicapped spot illegally.  In the past, I was confronted many, many times.  It was always a very unpleasant experience for me.

I don't want to have to explain my disability to someone just because they believed that I wasn't sufficiently, visibly disabled.  It feels like a hostile inquisition and I have ended up in tears.

I do support people calling the police and letting them figure it out.  I know that there are times my placard has gotten blown down and I didn't notice it.  I'm also not perfect and have forgotten to put it up.  All that happens is that I show up at the city office, present my placard and they remove the ticket and ask me to be more careful.