From the Better-Late-Than-Never Department, this just in: A veteran has received an apology from the writer of a nasty note accusing her of wrongly taking a parking spot designated for former service members.
"I was actually a little shocked," Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Landis Hayes, a former Navy physician, told InsideEdition.com Tuesday. "I think in today's world, we tend not to apologize for things."
The note debacle began last week when someone left a folded piece of paper under her windshield wiper as she shopped in a Harris Tweeter grocery store in Concord, North Carolina.
Hayes, who served for eight years, had parked in one of the specially designated spaces reserved for veterans before she ran inside to pick up a birthday cake.
When she returned, she found the message reading: “This parking is for Veterans, lady. Learn to read & have some respect."
That irked Hayes enough that she took to Facebook, leaving a four-paragraph note of her own that explained she was a veteran, that she'd never used the spaces before because she is able-bodied, and that she was sorry.
"I'm sorry that your narrow misogynistic world view can't conceive of the fact that there are female veterans," she wrote. "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 don't have the integrity and intestinal fortitude to identify yourself, qualities the military emphasizes.
"Which leads to one question, I served, did you?"
That led to an avalanche of sympathetic posts, several news stories and general outrage on Hayes' behalf.
Cut to this week, when a handwritten note with no signature and no return address showed up at Hayes’ medical practice.
“To the lady whose car I left a note on –
I happened to come across your post on facebook through a friend who shared your photo and status. I would like to apologize to you. I know its 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 judgement, and again, I’m sorry for that. Thank you for all that you’ve done.
“I guess they kind of did some self-reflection,” Hayes said. “The apology seems to be sincere and I do appreciate that.”
She assumes the author found her by Googling her name and learning the address of her office. She wasn’t there when the letter arrived and didn’t read it until she got home Monday night.
In the grand scheme of things, the original note is not a big deal, she said. “I wasn’t physically harmed in any way, shape or form. They didn’t hurt my car.”
But it was kind of nice, she said, to have someone say, ‘Hey, I realize that I was trying to stick up for veterans, but in the process I disrespected one.’
She’s stared at the handwriting, but can’t decide whether it’s male or female.
She told a friend, “Unless there’s a heart over an ‘i,’ I’m not going to assume it’s a woman,” she related, laughing. “My husband’s handwriting looks like a 3-year-old wrote it and I have the typical physician’s handwriting. No one can read it.”