Women may be holding more diverse positions in the U.S. military than ever before, but sadly that doesn’t mean that everyone is prepared to thank them for their service. This week, one brave woman's response to a rude note about parking in a veteran space has gone viral for the best reason. On Monday, Rebecca Landis Hayes, who proudly served for eight years in the United States Navy, reportedly parked at the Harris Teeter grocery store at the Coddle Creek shopping center in Concord, North Carolina. She was searching for a parking space in a full lot on a hot day (one of the most frustrating tasks ever), when she noticed that the two spaces reserved for veterans were empty. While Rebecca told WBTV that she rarely uses the reserved spaces (even though she is indeed a veteran) — that particular Monday she parked in one of them and ran into the store for 30 minutes to finish up her errands.
On the drive home she noticed a piece of paper stuck on her windshield. Assuming someone had scratched her car and was offering insurance information, Rebecca pulled over and read the note. Scrawled crudely on a torn scrap of notebook paper, were words so hurtful that they brought tears to her eyes. It read, “This parking is for veterans, lady. Learn to read & have some respect.” The note was unsigned. Rebecca believed that the narrow-minded person who felt compelled to write the misogynistic statement thought that a woman dressed in business-casual attire couldn’t possibly have served in our country’s military, but being accused of abusing veteran parking privileges hurt all the same.
Since the unidentified culprit was long gone, Rebecca took to Facebook and posted the absolute best comeback:
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 States Navy. I’m sorry that your narrow misogynistic worldview 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?
By that very night the powerful post had gained traction on social media, with over 1,000 shares. In just a few short days, the post has been shared over 6,000 times, and boasts a long list of overwhelmingly positive comments from the Facebook community.
Hayes says her husband has parked in the veteran spaces before, and instead of cruel notes, people have thanked him for his service to the country, WBTV reports. Now Hayes is finally getting the gratitude she so deeply deserves. And while the note-leaver has yet to step up, Hayes told WCNC that even the Harris Teeter reached out to apologize for what occurred.
In a follow-up Facebook post, Rebecca wrote that she hopes that her experience may benefit the veteran community as a whole, opening people's eyes to its diversity. She wrote, "I truly appreciate your kind words and support. I hope my experience will help remind people that there is no ONE Veteran type."