Rebecca Landis Hayes served in the United States Navy for 8 years. She is married to a veteran who served in the United States Army. She had parked in a spot that is reserved for veterans, and found a note saying, “This parking is for veterans, lady. Learn to read and have some respect.” Apparently her detractor assumed that because she was in civilian clothes, and perhaps, because she was female, she didn’t qualify. She decided to respond with the following, written on her Facebook account, and with a picture of the note intended as a rebuke:
“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?”
Mrs. Hayes told a local news outlet that her husband had parked there many times, and people would often come up and thank him for his service. They assumed that he would not park there unless he was the “real deal.” She also told them, “Veterans come in all shapes, sizes, genders and colors,” and, “More veterans don’t fit that stereotype than do.”
Here is what I find so fascinating about the whole situation: it was the cowardice of the note-leaver. This person saw her pull up and go in to her destination. This person apparently had the time to vent their frustration in the form of leaving a note on her windshield, but did not have the courage to go up and at least find out if she had seen the sign that designated the parking spot as for veterans only. This person did not have the courtesy to ask questions first, and perhaps say politely, “Ma’am, are you a military veteran?”
While I appreciate a protective posture toward our veterans, and champion the desire to see that they are, in fact, treated with respect, I would just about be willing to bet that the note-leaver did NOT serve, and here’s why. The training all members of our military receive when it comes to dealing with civilians is a politeness and level of professionalism that runs deep, nearly to a fault. Not only that, but they fully understand that they have a duty to protect even the ridiculous. Ex-mil or not, the note-leaver needs to learn some skills, the very least of which is not being rude and disrespectful while preventing rudeness and disrespect. Three cheers for the “squid” who set ‘em straight.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner