I felt bad about it - I really did.
I knew I was close to the line, but I didn't mean to take up more than a single space. You have to understand - it was a borrowed car, and I'm not used to driving such a beast. No excuse, I know, since I could have gotten out to check just how poorly I'd parked that day at the beach, but I didn't. I just cracked the windows, relieved to finally be there, and grabbed more than I could comfortably carry to waddle toward the shoreline behind my daughters and sister-in-law - she uses a cane, did I mention that? We were already half an hour behind the rest of our family, after getting turned around on the back streets of the sleepy little Lake Michigan resort town. I was feeling rushed and resentful, struggling to find that peaceful vacation calm that was forever eluding me. Maybe, now that we were finally here...
It was a HUGE parking lot, and more than half empty. How was I to know it would fill up that late in the afternoon? Still...I wasn't thinking about how my poor parking job was going to affect others. Guess I should have.
After a quick dip in the waves, I spent the next hour or so watching kiddos - my own and the younger cousins - on shore and at the playground. It was a perfect beach day, but since we had gotten a late start, it was a short one. Making our way back to the vehicle, the lot looked much as we had left it.
Except for the messages.
I didn't notice them at first, only the one tucked under the wiper blade. But... it was angry.
"You drunk piece of SH-- (with double underlines) Takes up 3 Pkgspaces! IDIOT!!"
Guilt washed over me, along with indignation; I hadn't parked that badly, had I? Straightening the wheels as I pulled from my spot, I supposed that maybe I had been in there rather haphazardly. It wasn't until we got going that I glanced in the rear-view mirror and noticed something scrawled in the dust on the back window. At the stop sign, I threw it in park, and stepped out to see. Earlier, my daughter had written a teasing message to my son; now that had been altered into something totally different.
"(Blank) is a nerd" now read "(Blank) is a D-bag!"
I swiped the offensive jab away, and checked for more. Sure enough, there, on either side of the vehicle - "4 Spaces - bad driver!" and "You suck!"
Wow, they must have been really mad to have wasted so much time on- wait a second! A little inconsistency there! Was it 3 or 4 spaces, 'cuz you know, I can own up to my own mistakes, but I'd like to know just how grievous an insult it was to them personally!? I was beginning to feel pretty offended myself. I checked the rest of the car and climbed back inside. My youngest wanted to know why someone would write such mean things all over our friend's car, and my first thought was to tell her it was because they were stupid jerks! Thankfully, reason won out. "Because some people are just angry," I answered, trying not to let that anger spill over unto me.
Then my seventeen year old answered with love - "Maybe they were just having a bad day, baby."
She was right, of course - not that she knew what kind of day they were having, but because we didn't know. No more than they understood ours. And that was the lesson to take away from this.
We can respond in anger or we can respond in love. One way hurts, the other heals.
I hope whoever left those messages figures that out. And... I hope they didn't let their beach day be ruined by my lack of consideration. My apologies. I kept the little scrap of paper - a Love's receipt - that the first note was scrawled on. It's pictured above.
I guess there are some things that chocolate can't fix.