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Stealing the Handicapped Spot

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"Sometimes I'll park in handicapped spaces
While handicapped people make handicapped faces"
Denis Leary, "Asshole"
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In popular media, one of the quickest and easiest ways to establish a character as a Jerkass is to have them (knowingly) park their car in a spot reserved for disabled people. If they're caught doing so and called out for it, the offender will refuse to apologize, either because they just enjoy inconveniencing others, or because they feel entitled to the space simply because they found it first.

Subtrope of Kick the Dog. Compare Parking Payback, when this kind of behavior is met with immediate retribution.


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Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • The Joker, of all people, hates this, and finds it hilarious to horrifically cripple anyone guilty of stealing a handicapped spot so as to allow them to legitimately park in handicapped spots.

    Film 
  • Office Space has Bill Lumbergh nonchalantly taking up a handicapped space after his specially reserved parking space was taken by one of his employees. Since this is against company rules, he gets towed for it, and the tow truck driver accidentally rips his bumper off.
  • In The Punisher (2004), Frank Castle steals Mrs. Saint's car while she's at the movies (placing a fake fire hydrant on the curb to keep the space open) and parks it in a handicapped spot at a hotel. He's invoking the trope to get parking tickets as part of an elaborate revenge scheme.
  • In The A-Team, when Murdock accidentally causes a large rooftop air conditioning unit to fall on and crush Baracus' beloved van, he defends himself by claiming it was parked in a handicapped zone.
  • Exploited in Shoot 'em Up. When in need of transportation, Smith steals a car illegally parked in a handicapped spot because he knows the guy deserves it.

    Live Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die has one segment that starts with a Jerk Jock surfer dude taking a handicapped spot away from a disabled veteran. Karma instantly pays him back when he tries to pull out of the parking lot, as the surfboard in his back seat collides with the handicapped sign, pivots 90 degrees and strikes him in the neck, severing his spine and killing him.
  • Hustle: In "Price of Fame", Benny Frazier parking in the ambulance zone at a hospital (and being rude to the staff member who asks him to move) is what first identifies him to Albert as a potential mark.
  • In Kingdom Hospital, Dr. Stegman is a repeat offender, going out of his way to park where he shouldn't - including in handicapped spaces.
  • On The Last Man on Earth, Carol chides Phil for parking on a handicapped space, even though, as he points out, there is no one else left alive (for all they know at the time), handicapped or otherwise.
  • Subverted in the pilot episode of Speechless, which opens with a woman arguing with Maya for parking her minivan in a handicapped space. Maya shows her up by opening the back, and out comes her son J.J. in a wheelchair.
  • Crownies: In the first episode, an able-bodied surer parks in the disabled parking space at the beach, and is then rude to Ben's grandfather (who is entitled to the space) when he asks him to move. Ben's grandfather then extracts some Parking Payback by parking the surfer in. This has tragic consequences as Ben's grandfather later receives a beating that results in his death.
  • Canada's Worst Driver: In the "Canada's Worst Parking Lot" challenge, there's normally a handicapped parking space available, but any driver who tries parking there gets told off and has to find a different spot. Except, that is, for Season 14's Karlene, who has a handicapped-parking permit. She just had to drive around the lot until someone brought it back from the hotel. In the same season, not only did someone else get told off for parking there, they actually knocked over the sign indicating its being a handicapped parking space.
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Handicapped Spot" has George Costanza parking in a handicapped spot at Kramer's urging while borrowing his father's car. The group comes back and finds an angry crowd surrounding the car and find out a handicapped woman had to park at the far end of the lot and had her wheelchair battery die, causing her to crash. The gang hide out and wait until the crowd leaves, revealing they destroyed George's father's car.
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    Music 
  • Ray Stevens: The song "Super Cop" has a mall cop who sees a non-handicapped person taking a handicapped spot, with the driver trying to run away on foot when he sees the cop. Cue Parking Payback as the cop retaliates by shooting the guy in the toe, thus making him handicapped. And then offering him a temporary sticker.

    Video Games 
  • In Life Is Strange, the first time Max see's Chloe's truck, it's parked in the handicapped spot for no apparent reason. What's more, it's not the last time we see her screw over the differently abled, as later on she tries to steal money from the Blackwell Handicap Fund. In an alternate timeline, she herself is, ironically, wheelchair-bound.

    Webcomics 
  • In Dumbing of Age, Amber's dad kidnaps Danny and uses him as leverage to lure his daughter outside. This strip shows him waiting in the parking lot with Danny, and the Alt Text says:
    If I mention he's sitting in the handicapped parking space, does that make him too cartoonishly evil?

    Web Video 
  • Game Grumps: While playing Super Mario 64 and talking about wanting to say "Do you know who I am?" for something stupid, Danny mentions wanting to say that at a Starbucks after not getting ketchup and then waiting for the staff to deliver it to his car.
    Arin: I'll be waiting over here, in the handicapped spot.

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Parking": Marvin takes a spot the Wattersons were about to park in, and Nicole vandalized his car in revenge. Then she realize they couldn't use the spot anyway because it's a handicap space (which Marvin could because he is elderly and walks with a cane). Then she sees Marvin hadn't left his car yet.
  • One episode of Duck Man has the titular character complaining about getting ticketed for parking in a handicapped space. This is how he tries to justify his action:
    Duckman: So what? No one notices, except the people who are supposed to park there. And hell, I can outrun them any day.
  • In the Family Guy episode "E. Peterbus Unum", when Peter discovers that his house isn't on the Quahog map, he declares it a sovereign nation. Then, claiming Diplomatic Immunity, he uses his status as an excuse to engage in all kinds of amoral or unlawful behavior- including, naturally, parking in handicapped spaces.
    I'm presidential Peter, interns think I'm hot/Don't care if you're handicapped, I'll still park in your spot
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Springfield Connection", Homer parks his car across three handicapped spaces at the Kwik-E-Mart around the time Marge briefly becomes a police officer. Because Marge actually takes her police job seriously, she arrests Homer when he refuses to move his car and takes her hat.
    • At the beginning of "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace", Homer parks his car across three handicapped spaces on his way to the Try N' Save to do his Christmas shopping.
  • In season four of Archer, Ray, having been paralysed in the previous season's finale, arrives at the ISIS underground parking lot, only to find the two handicap spots blocked by Archer's El Camino. Ray complains to Archer, but Archer quickly misdirects him by claiming his El Camino "is not a car[...] Nor is it a truck." In an earlier episode, Archer argues with a wheelchair-bound coworker, claiming to deserve the best parking spot due to being the top field agent.

    Real Life 
  • In an unfortunate Real Life inversion, people with a genuine need/right to use such spaces have to deal with being accused of using it improperly (especially if they suffer from an invisible disability), with consequences ranging from being publicly embarrassed by someone demanding they "prove" their disability to misguided Parking Payback. This is why it's sometimes best to mind your own business. Andy Rooney devoted a 60 Minutes segment to the issue. He pointed out people using handicapped spaces whom he contended, based on their appearance, were not handicapped.
  • A British Conservative Party MP once saw an apparently not-disabled man parking his car in a disabled spot and walking away; the MP confronted the man and loudly berated him for taking a space intended for a disabled person when he himself had no visible disabilities; the man said nothing, but bent down and hitched up his trousers, exposing his two artificial legs. A witness to the incident told the press that he thought that an MP for the Party that claims a monopoly on patriotism should have recognised...Group Captain Douglas Bader, RAF (retired), Britain's most famous disabled war hero!
  • In an example of Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot, vehicle parked in handicapped spot without permit turns up stolen with a prohibited firearm and fentanyl inside.

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