Okay, sure. I’m new to the Parking Placard Party ™, and I’m no expert on parking lot etiquette, but I felt compelled to compile a quick list of my parking placard tips and pet peeves that you may find useful.
Mind the Lines.
Whether you’re parking inside of or next to a handicap space, respect the lines on the pavement. There is a reason these spots have extra space on the sides. Every inch of that is valuable to someone who needs it for a ramp and wheelchair.
Do Not Apologize.
Yep. Our greatest fear. You just hung your tag from the rearview mirror, and all those non-disabled people are staring at you as you exit your car–especially if your disability isn’t blatantly visible. But you don’t look sick. So what? Your disability is valid, and it’s no one else’s business. You’re not obligated to explain yourself or prove anything to anyone. Leave your car with your head held high.
It’s Not a Competition.
Along the same vein, you aren’t entitled to act as a referee either. They don’t tell you this in the fine print, but a handicap parking placard does not double as a Parking Lot Police badge. I have fallen victim to the side-eye given by other disabled placard holders, scanning me from head to toe until they detect anything that indicates I’m one of them, perhaps even comparing their affliction to mine. This isn’t a competition. And even if it was, is it really one that anyone wants to win? Don’t judge others based on what you don’t know. Jesus ain’t hiring.
This final one is not for placard holders–it’s for their able-bodied, non-handicapped friends and family.
Dear sirs and madams: Congrats! You know a disabled person! Here is the number one parking placard sin that some of you may have already committed. It’s important, and I’m only going to say this once, so read carefully.
Hold on. I need one thing before I can continue.
It. Is. Not. Yours. To. Use.
There are a couple situations in which others can benefit from my legal rights. For example, if I’m sharing a hotel room with people, they are welcome to use the refrigerator that is provided for my medication. Similarly, when going anywhere with a group, whether it’s a large event or simply running errands, I’m pretty popular because I can park closest to the destination.
However. If I am not driving or riding in a vehicle with you, do not ask to borrow my placard.
Guys. Aside from the fact that the person you’re trying to leech off of can be fined or have their pass revoked, please consider the following before putting everyone in an uncomfortable situation because you don’t feel like walking a few hundred feet:
The very personal decision that your loved one made to get a handicapped parking placard was not made carelessly or easily, and the doctors who signed the forms didn’t do so arbitrarily. Receiving our parking pass is oftentimes a very difficult realization that we’ve hit a milestone that we never, ever wanted to reach. It’s painful. It forces us to admit something to ourselves that we don’t want to admit. It represents something that we once were able to do with ease, but may never do again.
Please don’t exploit that for your convenience.
And last, please consider that if you were able to pressure someone into letting you borrow their pass, you are now taking up a parking space that someone else may genuinely need. Don’t be that person. Do be thankful you don’t actually need that pass to function normally. Many people would be thrilled to walk that extra distance.
Really, all of these come down to simply being considerate of other people and their needs. That distance between the vehicle and the entrance to the destination can be unnecessarily stressful.
What are your tips and tricks for navigating these hurdles?