Hot summer afternoon in North Carolina. Rebecca Landis Hayes went to the grocery store. She spotted a parking space reserved for veterans, and pulled into it. She was just going to run in quickly, and it was hot. So she did.
When she came out, there was a note on her car. It said “This parking is for Veterans, lady. Learn to read & have some respect.”
Hayes was annoyed. Later in the day she posted a photo of the note on Facebook, with commentary.
To the person who left this note on my windshield today at the Coddle Creek Harris Teeter in Concord, NC:
I know I parked in one of the Veteran Parking spaces today, it was hot. I had been in and out of my car several times already this afternoon, and I was only going to be a minute. Besides, the parking lot was full, so I just did it. It was the first time, and I won’t do it again. I’m sorry…
I’m sorry that you can’t see my eight years of service in the United Sates Navy. I’m sorry that your narrow misogynistic world view can’t conceive of the fact that there are female Veterans. I’m sorry that I have to explain myself to people like you. Mostly, I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to have this conversation face to face, and that you didn’t have the integrity and intestinal fortitude to identify yourself, qualities the military emphasizes.
Which leads to one question, I served, did you?
One of those frustrating situations. Each of them wanted to tell someone off. One left a note, one hurled her post into the vast sea of Facebook.
Within the week Hayes got an anonymous letter. It said:
To the lady whose car I left a note on –
I happened to come across your note on facebook through a friend who shared your photo and status.
I would like to apologize to you. I know it’s no excuse, but I’ve seen so many young people park in retired vets’ spaces, along with handicap lately, and I lost my cool. I’m sorry you were the one who got the result of that angry moment. I know it was a mistake and I’m glad I saw your post. I immediately felt horrible about a situation – where I assumed I was standing up for someone. Clearly, this was not the case. You didn’t deserve that, and I hope you can accept this apology. I appreciate your service to this country and I highly respect military men and women. It was an error in judgment, and again, I’m sorry for that. Thank you for all that you’ve done.
Hayes was pleased, and posted a photo of this on Facebook. “I wanted to let everyone know I received a much appreciated, sincere apology.”
Hayes’s original Facebook post, despite its repetition of “I’m sorry,” is not an apology. Hint: phrases like “narrow misogynistic world view,” “you didn’t have the integrity,” and “people like you” are seldom found in a sincere apology. But that’s okay; she had no reason to apologize.
The letter she got was a pretty good apology, and she was happy with it. It does a lot of good things that a lot of apologies miss. You can tell what he’s apologizing for. He explains why he did it, and says it was wrong. He acknowledges that it was undeserved. He went to a lot of effort to get it to her.
It would be a very good apology – except that it was anonymous. Like his original note. I suppose he was afraid his name might be posted on Facebook.