Website for the petty
Today’s post was inspired by a website called Handicapped Fraud, where anyone can report the license plate numbers and handicapped parking placard numbers to the DMV of people using handicapped parking places. What would motivate a person to do this? It isn’t a new startup where the police department gives you a cut of the $300+ fine incurred by such a violation. It’s a place for ordinary citizens to tell on one another for the sole purpose of feeling morally superior.
If you read the website’s About page, the pure vindictiveness of the author is laid bare. Her* two anecdotes are meant to make the reader sympathize with her situation, but the content is so judgmental that it’s completely counterproductive. The woman with a red corvette who was parking at a hospital couldn’t have been there to pick up a disabled relative? Also, if in all her years of having a placard, she only had to drive around the block or wait for a parking space to open up twice, I have a hard time feeling sorry for her. Driving in any big city means that I have to do this every single time I drive anywhere.
Why handicapped parking?
A handicapped parking placard gets you superstar parking right in front, or free metered parking anywhere. Treating citizens differently under the law can make sense if it somehow benefits society to incentivize certain behaviors. It doesn’t make sense to incentivize driving for the physically disabled or their caretakers because while there is obvious benefit to them, there is no benefit to society at large. Even if there’s an argument to be made for letting them park closer, there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t pay for metered parking like everyone else. Eliminating just that perk would probably go further to eliminate fraud than anything else.
My own poor mommy
That being said, the criteria for qualifying are biased too– towards physical disability. Let me now present you with my own heart-wrenching anecdote. My mother has a mental quirk so debilitating that if she parks her car and then discovers an available parking space as little as a few yards closer to her destination, she will feel a compulsion to move her car to the closer spot. This compulsion is so strong that she has often forced her child, from a very young age, to use her body as a place holder for the more desirable parking space while she brings the car around. Yes, a child to hold the place and wave off other cars. She will often drive around for longer than she has to to find an open parking space because the available ones are just too far. This takes longer than it would take a paraplegic to get to the store from the furthest place in the parking lot. Longer than a paraplegic dragging himself along the ground. But she can’t help it. It causes her great psychological distress to think she could have parked closer. Under current law, she doesn’t qualify, but having experienced her OCD first hand, I must say that no one deserves a placard more than she does.
*Gender assumption made for notational convenience