A female service member, who served four years in the Air Force in Kuwait and on the flight line of the F-117 Nighthawk, took advantage of a parking spot reserved for veterans in front of a Harris Teeter grocery store in Wilmington, North Carolina, only to be left an angry note criticizing her action.
Mary Claire Caine walked back to her vehicle after shopping to find the following note written on an envelope and stuck to her car:
Maybe [you] can’t read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America….not you. Thanks, Wounded Vet.
Caine tells WECT News that her heart sank when she first read those words. “The first thing I felt was confusion that there was a mistake,” she said, “and that I had to talk to this person and ask them why they were so quick to assume I wasn’t a veteran and that I was taking privileges that didn’t belong to me.”
Caine admitted asking herself: “Am I a worthy enough veteran to park in this spot?” Something, she said, she quickly scrubbed from her thoughts.
She said she waited for a few moments to determine if the author was still in the area, but left soon after when no one appeared. Caine concluded that the note was left because of a few assumptions made about her:
I think they took one look at me when I got out of my car and saw that I was a woman and assumed I wasn’t a veteran and assumed I hadn’t served my country. They have this image of what today’s American veteran i and honestly, if you’ve served in the United States military, you know that veterans come in all shapes and sizes. I question whether the person who left the note was fully aware of that.
In hopes that the author of the note might hear her side of the story, she added, “They owe me, and every other female service member who’s fighting now and who’s fought in the past, an apology for jumping to conclusions.”
In a positive update to this incident, the Harris Teeter grocery store is reaching out to Caine and offering her “a token of appreciation.” She has also received an invitation to fish for free by an Army veteran who is captain of a fishing boat charter company.
Further displaying her American spirit of service, Caine said that while she appreciates those and other offers, she hopes they reconsider and instead donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.