I saw what you did, lady

Photo: Michael Rivera. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

A parking space for veterans.

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:

Image: “A Girl about to Despatch a Letter,” signed Kiyomine fude. Public domain.

Who the heck sent me this?

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.

God Bless.

Hayes was pleased, and posted a photo of this on Facebook. “I wanted to let everyone know I received a much appreciated, sincere apology.”

Image: “Bad News,” a painting by Belo Horizonte. Public domain.

Anonymous letters are upsetting.

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.

Image: “The Letter,” by A Stevens. Public domain.

Hey. He saw my post and he apologized!

This entry was posted in Accepting apologies, Fake apologies, Good apologies, Social Media Apologies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to I saw what you did, lady

  1. S. McC says:

    Given what happens on Facebook, it should not be put on Facebook. However, he should have stood up for his mistake by name, and asked, and then trusted, that she would not publish his name.

    • AnonypussRex says:

      Given the social media witch hunts we have seen publicized, I think anonymity is ok. Even well-meant, righteous anger/contempt can be ugly and misdirected.

      I would have owned up to it publicly but can also see how an accidental post could end up including his personal info and it would have been out of Ms. Hayes’s hands to control. (I have no idea of her rank or would have credited it.)

      Thanks, SorryWatch/sumac for good news apologies 🙂

  2. tanita says:

    Well, this counts as a tiny, beautiful thing. Thank you.

  3. Tom says:

    The Navy? Is that like the military?

    hahahahaha.

    (I only heard that joke recently and just think it’s kind of cute how it’s possible that some in the military don’t always take themselves so seriously; like the Vet above, half apologizing.)

    PS How come there’s no special parking spaces for Vietnam-era anti-war pacifist hippies with later injuries from drinking too much?

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