Want a job done, send a person who cares…


Want a job done, send a person who cares…

Jacksonville, FL, has a posse of volunteers that walk the streets and write tickets to people who park in handicapped spaces and don’t have permits. The story of one such disabled woman in her motorized wheelchair and well…

“I’ll only be a minute.”So said the jerk in the hulking 4×4 who blocked the handicapped parking zone.

Instead, Mo and Helen Murphy waited 15 minutes for him to come out of a Jacksonville Beach store so they could unload Mo’s wheelchair.Then he flipped them the bird.

Three years later, the Murphy family is fighting back, one ticket at a time.

In 2009 alone, this mother-daughter team from Ponte Vedra Beach won awards for being the “most productive” volunteers in the city of Jacksonville’s auxiliary disabled parking enforcement corps. On top of that, their family parking posse recently got a boost.

Mo was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that makes her bones break easily. At 42 years old, she is about 3 feet tall and weighs less than 100 pounds. In the past, she worked in an information technology job at a local college. But health complications in the last few years, including a broken neck and brain surgery, have limited her options.

Mo doesn’t walk, but it isn’t something she boo-hoos as she motors her wheelchair around St. Johns Town Center on a weekday afternoon.”I’m not a cop,” she said while on the hunt for violators. “I’m just a little peon who helps the parking establishment.”

But Mo, a native Northerner who hasn’t lost her Jersey accent, likes to win because she is too good to lose. She carries a digital camera in the field, which can be key, say, if a silver Saturn Aura illegally parked by Ted’s Montana Grill flees while she’s filling out a ticket.”That’s OK,” she said of the drive-off. “I’ve got my pictures.”

Sometimes, violators run. Others times, they stay and try to fight. But the Murphys’ training has taught them not to engage the enemy. Not that it’s always easy.Because minutes after the Saturn goes on the run from Mo, a woman who’s illegally parked a Dodge outside Dillard’s uses words like “fat” – she isn’t – and “putrid” – uh-uh – to describe Helen.

“And then,” said Helen, recapping the confrontation for Mo, “She said, ‘I hope you die.’ … I told her, ‘Well, we all have to die sometime.'”

Then Helen, a retired customer service representative, wrote the motorist a $250 ticket for using someone else’s disabled parking placard. But in their trade, they’ve also learned to avoid a certain phrase when they hand them over.

“Don’t tell them, ‘Have a nice day,'” Mo said.

That would be like flipping them the bird.

Wow – this is a story that is perfect for our parking PR program. What about it Helen?


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. One amazing thing about this article is that all but one of the comments posted in reply on the message board were positive. When’s the last time anybody saw an article about parking tickets where virtually all of the reader comments were along the lines of “way to go” and/or “increase the fine”?
    This lady is an inspiration, plain and simple.

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