It’s pretty rare to see a handicapped parking violator get checked by the authorities or a business owner. What’s more common is for conflict to erupt between regular citizens over the appointed parking spots.

Sometimes a note will be left on the offender’s car; other times, an all-out verbal war will ensue. 

National Geographic decided to do a little experiment that was half observation and half vigilante justice, all in the name of designated disabled parking spaces. Entitled “Payback Time,” a few guys assembled a team to police parking lots to find illegally parked cars. One violator learned the hard way that it’s just not worth the convenience of snatching up one of these reserved spaces.

Riding around in a motorized van designed for disabled riders, the team was on a mission. Their plan? Locate an illegally parked vehicle and block it in with their van, waiting for the owner to appear. Once the owner shows up, then they will slowly take turns getting out of the van – one by one. Hence the perfect setup for publicly shaming a handicap spot stealer.

Well, it happened just as predicted. After coming upon a car illegally parked in such a space at a restaurant’s parking lot, the plan took shape. They parked directly behind a SUV, blocking its exit. The van’s driver then got out to open the passenger doors. He took his time unloading the wheelchair lift as the driver of the SUV finally walked out.

Mouth agape, she stood there looking embarrassed, obviously acknowledging that she was the one who parked illegally. The NatGeo commentator described her as being “sheepish,” and it’s not hard to imagine what was going through her mind. Perhaps thinking to herself, “Aww man,” and a few other things, the woman watched as the driver began to slowly unload each disabled passenger.

As he wheeled the first man past her, she uttered an apology and he just shook his head in disgust. He continued with passenger two, and informed her he would be a bit longer as he pushed the man’s wheelchair by her too. As he prepared to get the next passenger, the woman sweetly tells the driver she could move her car now, with the subtext being she could get out of his way if he got out of hers.

Before the video cuts off, the driver lets her know “I don’t think you can.” We could see in the video that there was one more passenger waiting to disembark, and wonder what unfolded after all the van riders were unloaded. Did National Geographic’s experiment end in an actual confrontation like many real world encounters?

According to the National Geographic’s Channel website, these types of social experiments are conducted by Daniel Pink, a behavioral science expert. Meant to look at human behavior, the show’s episodes attract attention to how people would react to certain social situations. In the case of this handicapped parking issue, what would you have done? We know it is not always obvious when someone has a disability and can’t assume they shouldn’t park in one of these spaces. But have you or someone you love experienced similar frustration as shown in the video? Tell us in the comments!

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