Sunday afternoon, in the way home from grocery shopping at the Food Lion, I noticed a piece of paper fluttering on my windshield. Someone had tucked a note under my wiper blade. I was puzzled. It didn't look like the usual full- or half-page adverts one sometimes gets while parked. When I got home I quickly retrieved it.
It was a torn-off piece of stationery or notepad, with red and black decorations around the edge. In curly cursive handwriting were these words:
Please learn how to park correctly.
Wow, was I ever embarrassed. And because I was already home I couldn't even look to see what I had done wrong. I don't have any sense of superiority or righteousness about my parking. Most of the time it's fine; sometimes it could be better. If I get out and see it's outrageous, I get back in and fix it.
What had I done? What had I done that prompted someone to stop, fish around for paper and a pen, and leave me a note? I'll never know. And to my mystery note-writer: I'm sorry.
I see a lot of comments on social media that make the assumption that people who park badly are selfish and rude. More than that, they make the assumption that transgressors know full well what they are doing and do it anyway. My own husband thinks this sort of thing is hilarious.
People who park badly are the people everyone loves to hate. And they feel absolutely no guilt in doing so. (Am I feeling defensive here? Well, maybe a little. No one has ever left me a note before.) But while bad parking can be an annoyance, most of the time that's all it is. Why this over-the-top response?
I can think of two reasons. One is that everyone has something that truly gets on their last nerve, and for many people, apparently this is it. But the other is something I wish people would think about: the assumption of intent. People feel justified in their outrage because they assume the other driver has deliberately parked in this manner and gets a big charge out of inconveniencing others.
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they are just having a bad day. We all have bad days. Sunday must have been mine. After my initial feelings of wanting to crawl in a hole and hide, I resolved to double-check in the future to make sure my parking is okay. And, if that is all the note-writer was going for, then there's a happy ending to the story.
If they wanted to make me feel like an idiot, they did that, too.