Dear Everyone, If You're Not Disabled, Please Stop Parking in Those Spots

Since I was young, I've always had someone in my family who used disabled parking. First it was my grandpa in a wheelchair, then it was my aunt with cancer, then it was my grandma who was just ridiculously old (and adorable), and now it's my dad with cancer. I've always been around someone who needed that prime parking, so when I say I get fired up at people who park there when they shouldn't, I absolutely truly mean it.

It's common sense: a handicap parking spot is as close to a door as possible to help out a disabled person. They've been dealt a sh*tty hand otherwise, so let's cut them a break on this front. Whether they have a wheelchair, a cane, other trouble walking, or maybe even a breathing problem, they need that easier access from their car to a building.

Growing up in a small town, I never really experienced people taking advantage of a handicap parking spot when they had no right to. People in the Midwest are unbelievably nice and courteous, so it just wasn't something that was done. It wasn't until I got a little older that I realized how blasé people could be about something as simple as a parking space. How able-bodied people just don't think it's a big deal to park in that spot.

Here's my sometimes dilemma, though: while I'm a proponent of speaking out against someone I don't believe should use a handicap parking spot, admittedly, I don't know a person's life and don't know why they might have a handicap placard. If you look at my dad, you'd think he's completely normal. You can't visibly tell he has cancer, but he tires easily, so he parks in a handicap spot so he doesn't have to walk as far through a parking lot.

What I do have a problem with is those people who don't have a handicap placard at all, are "in a hurry," and park in a handicap spot for "just a sec."

I'm fine with this. If you have the placard, I trust your usage of it.

What I do have a problem with is those people who don't have a handicap placard at all, are "in a hurry," and park in a handicap spot for "just a sec." I put these words in quotes because people have literally told me these exact words before in their defense. Truly, I don't care about your hurry. What I do care about is when I'm driving my 95-year-old grandma to the pharmacy and there's nowhere for us to park because you were "in a hurry" and needed to park there for "just a sec."

I always tell people who don't care about others' needs to pretend it's your mom or your grandma who needs that handicap parking spot. It might make it a little more real to you, and you might care a little more. If that doesn't work and you still want to park in a handicap spot so you can literally run into the store for one thing — literally run — then I just have no time for you.