#015–How do you “confront” someone who illegally parked in a handicapped parking space?

God has a sense of humor–I was trying to figure out which question to write about this morning, and was witness to an incredible confrontation in the middle of a coffee shop.

Okay, dear, cosmic deity, I’ll take the hint….

A middle-aged woman and a young man with a motorcycle helmet got into it. He’d parked in the handicapped spot and come in to order his coffee. All of a sudden, this woman started yelling at him about how he should be ashamed to take the handicapped parking spot.

Things could’ve come to the point of blows from what I could see. She was scary and he started saying she oughta shut her fucking mouth because people were getting disturbed.

They “talked” over each other a bit (she yelled, he raised his voice). I think she said she had a handicapped husband and they really need those spaces. I clearly heard her say she oughta beat his ass. He responded that he wouldn’t mind beating hers for not minding her own business and being rude.

Then, under his breath (almost—I was pretty close to him), he said “oughta beat your ass like your husband should”).

Well, her parting shot was a yelled, “At least I’m not being inconsiderate!”

…I’ll let that sink in a moment….workplace20confrontation20800

The whole place was quiet while this happened, and she was so loud people in the drive thru were asking what the hell had happened when they’d made it to the window.

There was no way I was getting in the middle of that. I could see him looking around at the rest of us, and I bet she was doing the same–they were looking for allies. All I know is the rest of us stayed out.

The employees at the counter were wondering if they were going to have to call the police on those two. It took 10 minutes after I was sure they were both gone before I talked to the ladies at the counter (it was slow for the moment and they were whispering about it).

We had a brief discussion while I got a coffee refill. One thing that I’d heard was the man and woman were both in the wrong, and certainly her just verbally attacking him right off the bat wasn’t right. I mean, she didn’t try to bring it up politely, at least not that I could hear because she was at least 15 feet away before the yelling started (walking to within 5). She just launched right into it.

It got me thinking about a question that’s been on the edge of my brain for many years regarding people not parking in the proper places, especially the handicapped parking spaces. I’ve seen responses ranging from sarcastic, passive-aggressive notes left on windshields all the way to a car getting keyed by an unknown person (no, I didn’t witness the keying, just the outraged shriek into a phone afterwards).


Okay, this one’s beyond the passive-aggressive threshold, but you get the point.

Frankly, if someone has serious mobility issues, crutches, a wheelchair, etc, the handicapped parking spots need to be available. The striped area is not skinny parking for a motorcycle. The van parking isn’t a convenient wide spot for the sporty chick in the Hummer (seriously, if you can’t park it properly, don’t drive the stupid thing). That’s happened a lot around here—instead of finding two adjoining parking spots elsewhere to temporarily park in (since their vehicle’s so damned big and important), they take the handicapped one.

My question is how can a person bring up parking in the handicapped parking space to a person who has no tag in the car or on the license plate, and doesn’t have any discernible physical limitations?

By it’s very nature, this is a loaded question. Some people have those hanging tags for their rearview mirror, but forgot to hang it up once or twice when they parked. I’ve seen co-workers make that mistake and get nasty notes in reply. I myself would want to give the benefit of the doubt. Before they get a ticket (or passive aggressive response), I’d like to suggest to them they’d better put that tag on their rearview quick and leave it at that. No shaming and if the person was a lazy asshole, maybe it’ll tell them that someone’s paying attention.

That’s about the only idea I’ve had.

I’ve been reading ideas on how to deal with parking issues like this one, with comments ranging from no-confrontation to being vindictive and letting the air out of the person’s tires. This research led me further away from just parking into an exploration of what the physically (and “invisibly”) disabled have to go through in these situations. It showed me that though we’ve gotten IDEA passed years ago, and there are more technological and psychological opportunities to help the disabled, there’s a helluva stigma still attached to disability and how to react to it.

We’re torn between being over-eager defenders of the disabled or lazy assholes. Oddly enough, I think we’re both most of the time.

  1. Disabled does not mean incapable or helpless. Making assumptions of another’s capabilities is limiting them, though you might think you’re being helpful. When someone wants help, they will ask for it. Also–
  2. Enough with the nasty looks if someone “doesn’t look” disabled already! I found myself horrified at some of the stories coming from people online (I stopped reading after 20 and just picked one for the link) about the nasty looks. Then I realized that on occasion, I might’ve been one of those nasty looks-giving assholes, quietly fuming but holding my tongue. As a human being prone to being wrong, I’m sure it’s happened. So many things lead to intense pain and disability, and we don’t live that person’s life so how the hell can we know? (This site has some great info.) Does someone have to have a cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair, iron lung, what? One thing most of these stories have in common is the lack of apology. The nasty goes away replaced by awkwardness or suspicion, but that’s it. This is sad, but I don’t know what to do about it.b3b3c3d0f84ca485e44c38832fa8b267
  3. Handicapped parking is not a “designated loading zone.” I am not physically/invisibly handicapped (unless you count a constantly flapping trap as a disability), but I couldn’t give two shits if you’re “only going to be a minute” while you’re in a handicapped parking spot. For one thing, it never takes “only a minute,” and two, what’s the handicapped person who’s going into the same business/ facility supposed to do? If it’s only going to take a minute, then you can park elsewhere, make the run in and dash back out. If you’re in that big a damned hurry, use better time management methods. Unless you’re in a medical emergency, one minute will not make the difference between life and death. The 30 extra yards you may have to walk might be helpful to your health in the long run, anyway.


Hell, this “only a minute” excuse is why a lot of restaurants started having special “carry-out only” parking, next to the handicapped parking spaces. They’re close and keep the handicapped spaces open for those who need them most. Maybe more businesses should try that option, like have 3 or 4 spaces for “carry out” or “order ahead” parking so this crap doesn’t keep happening.

And as for that motorcycle guy, he got on and left (and was definitely in the spot right next to the door). For all I know, he had a disability…it’s not like I went out to look for a placard (and I doubt that woman did either).


This is a bike in the UK. Bet ours wouldn’t be too different. Looks sensible

Out of curiosity I went to look for photos of a handicapped placard for motorcycles (I know some countries and states have one), and couldn’t find one for Texas, or even the possibility of one on the DMV’s website. Guess I’ll have to look harder so I can recognize them.

In case you were curious, I did find the Accessible Parking in Texas Fast Facts from the state’s website. It’s a good start regarding laws.

But this question’s been a tough one, and I don’t really have an answer. What does one do regarding someone who does not have the proper placard or license plates indicating a disability, yet parked in the handicapped parking space?

I kinda wish a cop was here this morning—there are some that come throughout the day for coffee when they get a minute to breathe—and I wonder what would’ve happened to the both of them.

6 thoughts on “#015–How do you “confront” someone who illegally parked in a handicapped parking space?

  1. PiedType says:

    About the only thing you didn’t mention is that the person in the “loading zone” may be there “for just a minute” to either pick up or drop off a handicapped person. The question arose a year ago when my brother pulled my car into a handicapped spot to pick me up so that I wouldn’t have to walk any farther to get to the car. I’d been ill and could only go about 50 feet before being completely exhausted. But I’d not gotten a handicapped tag for my car because I expected to be better soon. Not sure what others would have thought of the incident, had we been challenged. I’m normally very noninterventional, but in another couple of years when I’m using a cane or walker, those jerks up at my grocery store had better watch out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      I’ve seen that a couple of times where somebody pulls into the spot for a pickup, but usually they stay in the car with the door open for the other person and engine running. They make it clear they’re here for a disabled person, so I’ve never seen ’em get grief for it. Once the engine’s off and the driver’s just sitting there, playing with their phone, not paying attention to anybody coming out…that gives another impression.

      Hmm…good point to bring up, though. I’ll have to watch out more.


  2. Andrew says:

    My wife has a permanent disabled tag for her car that she obtained a few years ago for back/leg pain due to degenerative discs in her back. She’s actually managing the pain now through exercise/weight loss and even though the placard is in her car all the time, we rarely use it. Admittedly, there are some days that she’ll use it when its raining or the weather is bad. I’m very aware of the fact that disabilities come in all shapes and sizes and will give an opportunity for someone to correct their overlooking putting the tag in the window; if they don’t have one, then I walk around to the back of their car to get their license plate number with the intention of reporting it to the store management. 9 times out of 10, when they see me do this they immediately get back in and move their car. My general approach is to be non-verbal beyond asking them to produce their window tag so as not to fan the flames of anger caused by titanic laziness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      I wish, like I read on someone else’s post, that they had the phone number for the sheriff’s department on the sign to report someone who is parking in that spot (and you could send the cameraphone image to them). Hey, they were big on those traffic cams and sending you tickets through the mail, why not this? And, the sheriff’s office could check if the car was legit (but forgot their placard) and it won’t result in hassles…hmm…

      Liked by 1 person

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