This did not happen to me, but was posted on our community Facebook page in hopes of reaching (and shaming) the offender.
The woman who posted is a realtor, and as is common in our area, her car features a large magnet advertising her real estate business with a professional head shot of the agent. During a recent trip to the grocery store, her husband had used her car and parked in a space reserved for combat veterans.
When he returned, the man found the following note posted on the car:
“I sure hope you’re really a veteran and not just an agent wanting a spot closer to the door. #sad” (Yes, the note included a hashtag.)
As it happens, the realtor’s husband is a veteran who lost both legs in combat. Had the note-writer looked into the car, the adaptive equipment would have been easily seen. Personally, I believe there was more than a smidge of sexism involved, since it seemed the writer of the note simply couldn’t fathom a car advertising a businesswoman being driven by a veteran. 1102-17
Next post: Gaming Drama Queen
Previous post: The Absolute Worst House Guest…Ever…In History…Ever
Comments on this entry are closed.
My knee-jerk reaction is that he focused on her headshot and thought “That doesn’t look like a veteran to me…” So he had to make something out of it. Assuming things can really get us started down paths of wrong-thinking.
I’m surprised their vehicles wouldn’t have disabled plates, which might have been another clue to the idiot who left the note. But it’s none of the idiot’s business.
This is the first I’ve heard of parking lots having spaces reserved for veterans (and I live in an area with military installations). I’ve seen ones for special employees, pregnant women, new mothers, people picking up online orders, and of course the only legally required (or probably legally enforceable) ones: spaces for those with disabled tags or plates.
I suppose it’s admirable to honor certain groups or market to certain groups by providing such spaces, but I don’t think there’s much a store could do if someone “misuses” such a parking space. Most of the times I’ve been to our local grocery store and the other store that has thematically reserved spaces, they are going unused, and are simply a waste of good parking spaces that could be used by any customer.
It does seem like “first come, first served” would be an easier system overall. Making too many divisions in the parking privileges of potential customers leads to problems with spots not used, as you observed, and to problems of misuse and enforcement. I wonder if there’s a simpler system that would still see that those with special concerns of one sort or another had their needs met? Maybe just the normal blue placard spots and parents with infants/ young children? It’s a puzzle because seniors, those struggling with illness, veterans, police, those in service industries of other kinds- many people struggle to get in and out of an establishment. If management offered other incentives, where feasible, maybe it would free up some spots for the “in-between” category. The system “as is” is better than nothing, but only just…
In my state, you can only get disabled plates on a vehicle registered to the disabled person. Normally a great policy, but frustrating for someone like me who is the parent of a disabled child. The husband may not be registered to this vehicle because it is primarily used for work. The husband would have a placard assigned to him. However, since this isn’t an official disabled spot, using the placard is not necessary. This type of spot is more like the courtesy “stork” spots for pregnant women where there is only a social contract, instead of a law, governing its use.
Stories like this remind me that the internet didn’t “invent” trolls who use anonymity to be nasty to other people.
If I thought, even with a good deal of certainty, that someone was mis-using a reserved space, I would just tut-tut to myself and move on. Leaving a note is just a bit much and is making a heck of a lot of assumptions into “fact.” Who’s to say a woman can’t be a veteran — perhaps decorated — perhaps wounded — perhaps disabled? And as shown, the person using the space could very well be a vet/disabled vet using someone else’s car. The note-leaver was over the line, snarky and clearly not much of a thinker.
Dominic, I’ve seen some places have reserved spaces for veterans. Mission BBQ does, for one. It’s not common, though. Lowe’s has one for purple heart vets.
There is a US Senator who is a woman, decorated, wounded, and disabled. If someone looked at her official Senate headshot, would such a person think she “looked like” a combat veteran, in her dark conservative suit, makeup, and styled hair, which shows nothing below the waist?
The Senator in question is Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in a combat helicopter crash.
Yeah, I’m guessing a bit of sexism: If she’s a woman who cleans up nice, she can’t possibly be a veteran — vets are “tough,” not “pretty.” (And apparently can’t be both.)
And my dad, a veteran, refused to join the VFW because they didn’t endorse her.
His older sister, my aunt, is also a veteran. When her husband (also a veteran) passed away, she was very happy that it was two women who did the flag ceremony.
One of my friends is a combat veteran; she saw two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was injured in a nonobvious way. She’s also gorgeous. Someone looking at her would probably stereotype her as a girly-girl. I have met a great deal of her friends – there is no one look for a combat veteran.
I’ve absolutely left notes where people have parked in disabled spots without the proper parking pass. People who do things like that deserve to be shamed. However when it’s a non-legally enforceable spot with no way of knowing whether the person fits the bill it’d be a pointless exercise for sure.
It is strange that the spot is just for veterans. What if the man had lost both his legs in a different situation? Was there a spot for that?
I Love and Appreciate veterans and those currently serving and those training to serve, as I sit here drinking my coffee, I know these people are, in part responsible for my freedom.
But it still seems strange to reserve parking for vets only.
That aside, there are two things wrong with this story.
The first is that whoever left the note made a wrong assumption about a temporary, and small offence. And that person acted in it. I wouldn’t speculate about sexism or a hatred for real estate agents, but more likely just one of those moments where a human gets very quickly heated up. Those are the moments to take a breath.
The second thing wrong with this story is that the owner of the car saw fit to try to find and publicly shame a person who made a quick, poor choice.
Humans do stupid things. When things like this are not repeatedly happening, I think it’s best for everyone involved to take deep breaths and try to go on with the day, the month, the year.
Since the note leaver was anonymous she wasn’t outting anyone specifically on social media. I have a feeling that she may have wanted to head off any negative backlash from this incident or in the future if her and her husband share that car. I have seen many stories where people put businesses ‘on blast’ via social media when incidents like this occur. I could very easily see the note leaver taking a picture, posting to her or her business page saying that she doesn’t respect veterans… blah blah blah. Other people eagerly join in on these bashing and can tarnish a persons reputation for a perceived slight.
I don’t follow. Surely you see the difference between becoming disabled while serving in the military and what could be a multitude of other ways; some of which might even have been criminal? How would you discern? Or would you?
There are disabled parking places everywhere. If a business want to set aside extras for disabled veterans, it should be able to without question.
What gets me is the pregnant parking spots. At least veterans were being heros when something unfortunate happened. Someone deciding to get pregnant is their own personal choice.
I understand your feeling, but believe me, in the late stages of pregnancy when one is carrying a watermelon in the most awkward region possible, every possible step-saver is greatly appreciated.
You don’t think a pregnant woman should be allowed to park a little closer because having kids is voluntary? So should there be a vetting process for handicapped tags? “I’m sorry but you were paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in which you failed to wear a helmet. Since this was your fault no tags for you!”
Pregnancy might be a choice, as you say, but it has impact on the health and the functionality of the parent to be. Many women make it just fine with no real impact to their ability to manage in daily life. Some have to be less active or may be confined to limited activity, confined to bed or just trying to muddle through with less energy. It isn’t very thoughtful to say that they aren’t well served by having a space reserved. Society may benefit from their “choice” to have children in time to come. If a business (such as a grocery store) that serves families chooses to prioritize these clients, who presumably are shopping for more than one (at least in time to come), that’s a reasonable customer service choice. I guess my point is that experience of pregnancy varies, and a business that serves many clients in that demographic are trying to be practical, hospitable and inclusive. It’s not wrong to NOT have special parking for expectant mothers, but it is kind of nice, in my view.
The pregnancy spots are there to try and make money. In my town there is a large toy & baby store that has -eight-of these spots right out front. The nearest disabled spots are three rows over in front of another store. My six year old is disabled, as is his grandfather. Plus my kids are both adopted. It makes me feel like my money isn’t as wanted there.
But pregnancy comes with what is deemed a temporary disability. You often can’t walk for long periods and a closer spot helps there. It doesn’t matter they choose to become pregnant, it’s now a condition we work around to lessen their struggle.
It’s not an honor to get a spot, it’s just the nice thing to do. Like giving a pregnant lady your seat on the bus and standing. Would you just say “sucks your ankles are swollen but you did choose to have that baby!”
I mean we choose to get old too. Why do we give the elderly discounts and seats when the are limited…see where this is going?
Agreed! I park in the pregnant lady parking spots ALL THE TIME. I find them ridiculous – you’re not a protected class, you made choices and now you have children. You’re the same as everyone else.
I’ve wondered about doing just that. I have a handicapped placard and sometimes I cannot find an available parking space yet the “Mothers with baby” spaces are open. And I have yet to understand why the mom spaces are actually closer to the store than the handicapped sometimes.
There’s more that goes in to placement of handicapped spots than just how close it is to the door. It needs to be big enough for wheelchair lifts, and have a clear path from the space to the ramp, since most parking lots have pretty big curbs that a wheelchair couldn’t make it over.
Handicapped spots are mandated by state and local codes. Generally speaking, their positioning/distance have to follow certain guidelines. Other spots for combat vets, the elderly, pregnant ladies, or employee of the month, etc., are at the business owner’s choice, and usually have to do with the community or clientele they wish to impress with their thoughtfulness.
I would think, as a matter of etiquette, that we would be required to honor the host (owner’s) rules? Otherwise, it seems like what you would have is what I’m seeing in the above comments… “I feel that I deserve that spot more than designated person x…”
Someone becoming a soldier is also a personal choice, I don’t follow your logic.
If people have physical difficulties they have them, whether it was choice or no. We give them spaces because they need them, not as a statement on their greatness.
If the man had lost his legs in a different circumstance other than being a veteran, he would use handicapped parking.
I agree. What the note writer did was not well thought through, but I would think twice before employing that realtor. What she did made a bad situation worse.
I don’t follow your logic. What did the realtor do wrong? Letting your husband drive your car is not a crime!
There was a huge kerfluffle on the internet a couple years ago about the “Veteran Parking” spots at a Culver’s.
A woman who had been in the armed forces and had been deployed overseas during her time in the military parked her minivan in the spot. An older man took offense. When she told him that she was a veteran, he responded that obviously the spots were for disabled veterans, but to save the veterans’ pride they didn’t spell it out. And she should be ashamed of herself for taking the spot away from a disabled WWII or Vietnam Vet just so she and her family could park closer.
There does seem to be some sexism bound up in both the OP’s story and the woman at Culver’s story.
My great aunt was a WAC, went to college, then went into the Air Force when they allowed women. She was one of the first female full bird Colonel’s in the Air Force. And when she went to join the VFW, they told her she could only join the wives auxiliary because they weren’t set up for female veterans.
Lots of women who have served honorably and bravely seem to get their head patted with a “That’s nice dear. So sweet of you to do the filling and whatnot while our brave young men went to battle” response to their service.
It’s a shame.
When a man mentions that he served, without having to say anything about the capacity in which he served, people immediately say “Thank you for your service.”
When a woman mentions that she served, she often gets a side eye of “Weeeeeeell, you KIND of served. But since women weren’t allowed in combat roles, I guess it was nice you were there to support the guys who REALLY served.”
Thank you, @Lerah99 for this note.
I have to say, I’m all for parking spaces for those that are disabled, expectant mothers (regardless of the fact that I’m never going to have children, therefore will not have the opportunity to use one), and any one else that would need them.
And – though I’m a pacifist, I recognize that I have the luxury of being so BECAUSE of veterans – regardless of whether they came home injured or with missing limbs. Veterans risked their lives – the very least that we can do is give them a nicer parking spot – literally the very least.
A disabled veteran would be parking in the handicapped space. The ‘veteran’ parking is exactly what it says… it’s a thank-you from the retail establishment to honor veterans (regardless of physical ailment) by giving them a more ‘prime’ parking location closer to the store. The ‘veteran’ spaces are just a made-up category of reserved parking determined by the store. It is not a legally mandated space.
I remember that well, including the “it’s for disabled veterans but doesn’t say so because of pride but everyone knows what it means”.
One place I lived there were three retired veterans within a few houses of us. One served 1937-1977 and was a supply clerk. He took his job very seriously because if the troops in the field didn’t have the supplies they needed, the war was over. He said it took seven personnel behind every deployed soldier in the field. So a lot that served didn’t see combat. They still served. They are still veterans. The other was an officer who served in Vietnam in Medical Support (he married the head OR nurse..) They did come under direct fire many times. All three were veterans. All served with honor and distinction. If you had tried to tell her she ‘kind of served’ she would have taken a stripe off you and handed you your head on a platter. Women serve too.
I feel the same way about this situation as I do about people without handicapped tags using handicapped spaces, and people who don’t appear handicapped using the spaces. It doesn’t pay to make assumptions. There are all kinds of explanations that we may not be aware of. It’s best to not try to police other people.
If you don’t have the handicapped tags, then the space is being used illegally (at least in my state). If you don’t “appear” to have a disability, you might have an invisible disability or even be driving somebody who is disabled. My mother has one of those tags for when she takes my 97-year-old grandmother places. She only uses it then.
Also, several people have already pointed out that kids with disabilities are often being driven by an adult without disabilities.
It’s very possible that the person illegally parked without tags is actually disabled and forgot their tag in another car. They could have memory problems that are part of their disability, but haven’t yet affected their ability to drive to the store. And in any case you shouldn’t meet rudeness with rudeness, even in the form of an anonymous note.
I think it wasn’t wrong, but probably stupid (in an absentminded way) of the husband to park in the veteran’s space with the advertising on the car. It makes the business look bad if people know the agent isn’t a vet, as the note [barely, but still] references.
As mentioned above, the only legally enforceable spaces are for those with disabled tags or plates. Others are self serving on the part of the store – mothers will shop here if we have mothers’ specific spaces, etc.
But when the husband is using the car, why shouldn’t he get to use the veteran spaces? What if they only have 1 car? They can’t take the advertising on and off, and why should people assume the woman isn’t a veteran? The note was anonymous and even in a small town it is extremely unlikely every single person there knows the couple, and even if they didn’t they know more than 1 person can drive a car. It seems to be exactly what other posters have said: see a picture of a woman, assume she isn’t a veteran.
I work in an individual-driven industry like real estate – you’re essentially buying the person when you do business with us. We go out of our way to avoid all appearances of impropriety, like not driving too flashy of cars or parking the branded car (we have one) in an inappropriate space like this post refers to or honking the horn at someone or speeding while driving it because those things reflect poorly on the person/business, which we are advertising with the branded car.
If the veteran is driving the branded car without being the person who is the brand (and then having the public have some base knowledge of the branded person being a vet), that reflects poorly on the brand and the business, and will cost you in the business, as will petty FB posts. I wouldn’t hire a realtor who gossiped on FB. I wouldn’t hire one whose branded vehicle drives like a maniac or parks improperly in handicapped spaces. I wouldn’t hire a professional who doesn’t know that this is what they’re subjecting themselves to when they choose to brand their vehicle, because that professional doesn’t think far enough ahead for my tastes.
There’s no evidence here that the husband is handicapped in any way or needed the closer space. Regardless of gender, I think parking there in the branded car reflects poorly on the business.
No evidence that the husband was not handicapped or needed the closer space — did you miss the part where he lost both legs in combat?
Note, unless the parking was for WOUNDED/disabled combat veterans, and her photos clearly showed her as 100% able-bodied, there’s no reason anyone should have assumed that the female realtor wasn’t a combat veteran herself.
I think you’re trying to make the point that you have to be extra circumspect when you’re a public brand, which I get, but at the same time, how far does one have to go to combat people’s prejudices and thoughtlessness?
The person who left the note obviously did not see the driver enter the store since it would have been apparent. Therefore the note-leaver was basing this totally on a sexist opinion of the ad.
As far as the note-leaver knows the situation could have been any of the following
1) the woman in the ad is the driver and is a veteran
2) the woman had a passenger who was a veteran
3) the woman had an employee using a company vehicle that is a veteran
4) the woman’s spouse was a veteran
Where I live, the only legally enforceable reserved parking stalls are marked handicapped stalls. All others (veteran parking, family parking, etc. one of our malls also has a “hybrid/green car only” stalls close to the doors) are simply provided as a courtesy for customers, but there’s not really any way to legally enforce these stalls.
I love businesses that have family parking stalls (reserved for pregnant mothers or parents with young children). The stalls are usually a little wider to accommodate getting my daughter in and out of her carseat, and they are close to the doors so when it is cold outside we don’t have to hike halfway across the parking lot. They were also very nice in the later stages of my pregnancy when walking long distances wreaked havoc on my back. However, I was pregnant over the winter, and in my big bulky parka, it was sometimes difficult to tell if I was actually pregnant or not. I also wouldn’t fault a mother in her first trimester and not showing for parking in that space because many pregnancy symptoms, while still uncomfortable, are not visible that early on. Nobody ever confronted me about using these spaces while pregnant, but an acquaintance of mine had somebody yell “Nice baby, b***h!” across a Wal-Mark parking lot when she attempted to use the stall while pregnant, but not particularly showing. It was distressing and hurtful and unnecessary of the person who yelled at her.
The note writer made an assumption and got involved in something he/she had no reason to. Whether the driver of the car was a veteran or not was really nobody’s business.
I parked in an expectant mother spot at the grocery store when I was pregnant. A man stopped and waited for me to get out of the car and told me he was waiting to see if I was actually pregnant. It was creepy and felt really unnecessary.
Isn’t this actually a happy ending? The person who left the note was hopeful that the spot wasn’t being misused and was available to the veterans for whom it was reserved. In fact, the person who parked there was a veteran. Why was that offensive to him?
Because it was none of the other person’s business in the first place. Do they regularly attach these notes to every single car in the veteran’s spots every time they go to the store? No? Then why this car, this time? Because the car had a picture of a woman on it. It’s sad and sexist that he decided to question the legitimacy of the driver’s veteran status based on it.
I must admit, I’m not familiar with parking spaces designated for veterans. Disabled persons, yes, but not veterans. Glad to see that is happening. That said, if there are going to be places specifically designated for certain groups, then there should be some sort of visible identification on the car to avoid just this. My Dad did volunteer work for the local police department, going around and making sure that the cars parked in handicapped spaces were truly deserving of being there; if the car did not show visible and accepted proof they were written a citation.
I like your thinking! Businesses (or the local police, chamber of commerce or tax office) could register for special categories of parking privileges. A universal placard could be granted for the town (or state if it caught on) and the placard would have an expiration date if it was for a temporary condition. It could even be anonymous so that no one could identify the qualifying condition (is it because she is pregnant? a veteran? tax incentive for hybrid car? unknown?). It might discourage busy-bodies and businesses could then post “tow” warnings for those parking in those spots without a qualifying tag, so no need for police enforcement or enforcement by staff. Many tow trucks are happy to patrol and take cars that aren’t qualified to park in certain spaces (at least in urban environments). Could even be a new revenue stream for a couple of local jobs and a few fees to the city arising from the sale/ issuance of these “green/ general privilege” placards.
Tammy Duckworth – United States Senator from Illinois. The helicopter that whe was flying in Iraq when it was hit and went down and she lost both her legs due to the accident. Today she’s a member of Congress, a wife & a mother. Perfect example of a woman who is handicapped having a professional life. So people that just go by apperances need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves unless they truly know the full story. But, of course, people will continue to force their outrage upon others and feel smug in their ignorance.
I like to imagine that the note-writer was sitting in his car, waiting to see the offender, and when he sees the husband, he is thoroughly and properly shamed. He then drives home, red-faced and shamed.
Completely aside from this car having a valid disability placard because of her husband’s disability, if the lady was driving alone, why did she NEED to park according to the placard? My husband has one because his knees have been replaced. But I am not disabled. If I am driving alone, I don’t use it, which allows a more deserving person to use the handicapped parking space. Just because a placard is hanging on the mirror does not mean you have to use it. It’s less about legality and more about courtesy.
And just because you don’t see a disability does not men it isn’t there. For example, my husband’s knees.
Where are you seeing the bit about placards? These aren’t legally mandated disabled spots, they are courtesy spots offered by the store for veterans. Neither the store nor the state hands out placards for vets. A disabled vet with a placard going to this store would be able to choose from the disabled spots or the veteran spots.
I agree that when the disabled person whom the placard is for isn’t in the car the handicapped spots should not be used. I also agree about invisible disabilities.
ETA: And it wasn’t the wife who was driving, it sounds like she wasn’t even present, it was just the veteran husband. The car had an ad for his wife’s business on it, with a headshot photo of her, and when he came back to the car he found the note. So someone questioned whether the car belonged to a veteran based solely on the photo of a woman’s head and shoulders on the outside of it. Which is a really nasty thing to do.
It is absolutely about legality when we discuss disabled parking (not discussing the veteran parking). If you are driving alone, you cannot legally park in the disabled parking space even though you have a placard. That placard is not supposed to remain on the mirror. It is illegal to drive with it hanging from the mirror so don’t have the excuse of parking there simply because it’s on your mirror. You only place the placard on the mirror when parking in a space WHEN you have the person in the car with you that the placard belongs to.
I am disabled and have a placard. I can drive alone. Are you saying because I am able to drive myself, I should not use my placard?
On the other hand, my SIL who is not disabled got caught using my disabled mother’s placard when Mom was not with her to be able to park in a space closer to the door. She got a $200 fine and the card taken away from her.
No, I believe SS was referring to Kate’s statement “If I am driving alone, I don’t use it, which allows a more deserving person to use the handicapped parking space. Just because a placard is hanging on the mirror does not mean you have to use it. It’s less about legality and more about courtesy.”
SS meant that Kate couldn’t legally park in the spot if her disabled husband were not with her, not that it was just common courtesy that she doesn’t, that it is actually illegal for her to park in that spot without her husband in the car.
And side note, not reply to you, but a lot of people don’t know that it’s illegal to do so even if you have the person in your car and drop them off at the front door and then park – the person who has the placard must be in the car when it is parked. The police did a ‘sting’ a few years ago at a local mall and gave out a bunch of tickets, that was one of the excuses the officers were given.
I think SS was specifically addressing Kate’s remark, about having a placard in her car for someone other than herself. I doubt they meant to suggest that a disabled person driving him/herself shouldn’t use it.
Actually, you are incorrect. The use of disabled placards vary state by state. In Indiana, where we live, the placard is allowed for the disabled user, and priviledges are extended to the spouse, or caretaker of record (paid nurse, child if elderly). A placard may be used regardless of if the disabled person is in the car or not once you are the caretaker on record. So on days I went to the supermarket myself, I could have used the parking placard to legally park in a handicapped spot, according to my state’s laws. I didn’t, because I am not disabled (and I didn’t want to deal with vigilante enforcers); but the law allowed for me to use it.
“As it happens, the realtor’s husband is a veteran who lost both legs in combat. Had the note-writer looked into the car, the adaptive equipment would have been easily seen. ”
But: (a) the person who posted the note had no reason – and no business – to go peering into the car looking for such equipment: it wasn’t a disabled parking space. And (b) even if he had seen them, it still wouldn’t prove that the person who had parked it there was a veteran.
I’m from the UK, where parking spaces for servicemen and women or veterans aren’t a thing: we have legally-enforceable disabled parking spaces in public car parks, plus “mother-and-child” spaces in commercial venues. Some of the commercial companies fine unwarranted use of the spaces, others don’t. However, I do think having veterans’ spaces without any kind of official badge or plate that can be displayed to demonstrate one’s right to use them is a recipe for trouble.
To end the argument of whether veteran spaces are only for disabled veterans, the group that started the parking movement states it is for ANY veteran.
“Veteran’s Parking Spaces will be for any Veteran with or without a DMV issued vehicle license plate from any state. “
OP here! Regarding the veterans’ parking, I live in a conservative area where honoring armed service members is expected, and also a pretty common way for businesses to drum up good publicity. The spaces are marked as a courtesy, but I don’t believe they are legally enforceable and there are no veterans’ placards on any vehicles. It basically works on the honor system, like an expecting mother’s space.