The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre is famed for his line, “Hell is other people,” and sometimes the old guy has a point. Whether it’s jumping the line at the grocery store, or driving selfishly, there are numerous ways in which other people can grind our gears every day. This story from the U.S. from late 2015 is just one example of bad citizenship, but it has a twist in the tale.
This everyday story about a dispute over a car parking space somewhere in the States sent the internet into a spin. It is a truly uplifting tale for anyone on a downer about how we treat one another, with an ending that few will see coming. The seemingly mundane episode opened in December 2015, when a woman noticed that somebody else had taken her allocated parking spot.
The female was understandably irritated by the fact that someone had ignored the parking rules in her neighborhood. Because of a stranger’s selfishness, she was forced to find somewhere else to leave her vehicle. But, unfortunately, the only place she could find to park it was outside of her car’s designated permit area.
This meant that she was forced to leave her vehicle in a space on the street where it wasn’t technically allowed to be parked. The female driver just had to hope against hope that traffic wardens would overlook it. However, as most motorists will tell you, parking enforcement officers are renowned for their eagle eyes, and not known for their soft hearts. Sure enough, when she returned to her vehicle the next day, the woman discovered that it had a ticket on it.
She was given a fine for parking on the street overnight without a permit, and needless to say, the car owner was not best pleased. And it appears that she didn’t want the selfish individual who parked in her spot to get away with it scot free. So the woman approached the offending auto, which was still sitting in her parking bay, with a score to settle.
The injured party wanted to make sure that the owner of the car in her space knew exactly how much of an inconvenience they had caused her. Evidently, she thought righting this wrong could best be achieved by writing something strong. So the woman took it upon herself to pen a protest. So she found a scrap of paper and scribbled a terse message, expressing her frustration and unhappiness.
The missive laid it out straight. It read, “Hey stranger, Because you were parked in my spot last night (and still are??), I got a ticket for street parking overnight without a permit. I’m broke.” She could have left it there if she wanted to make the car owner feel bad, but apparently she wanted them to think as well. And so there was more to the woman’s message.
The note continued, “These are privately owned spots, and I could have you ticketed and towed. I won’t, but please don’t park in my spot again.” The message was pretty succinct and measured in the circumstances. Some people would doubtless argue that the aggrieved woman had the right to be ruder than she was.
But the note was loud and clear, without having to use expletives or rude names in order to get the woman’s point across. The motorist stranger had acted selfishly and she had called them out on it. The woman left the note under the car’s windshield and got on with her day. If she pushed the incident out of her mind, never expecting any sort of repercussion, it turned out she was very wrong to do so.
Apparently, the parking spot villain received the inconvenienced woman’s note and understood what they had done wrong. This prompted the miscreant motorist to look inside their heart and do something awesome. And later, when the story broke online, it was enough to restore some of the internet community’s faith in humanity.
The woman whose parking spot had been stolen had only left her note to make a point. She certainly never thought that she would get one back. But, in the end, she received a number of unexpected notes from the parking bay baddie. When she returned to the scene of the crime, the woman was surprised to find an envelope. But not as surprised as she would be when she discovered its contents.
She simply couldn’t believe what the message said, let alone the surprise that was tucked inside. The stranger had turned over the scrap of paper the woman had written on, and left a message of their own. They wrote, “First I would like to apologize for parking in your spot.” So far so good, at least this showed that they were genuinely sorry for their selfishness.
But aside from the driver’s apology, the rest of the note was even more interesting. “It was irresponsible on my part,” the rogue parker wrote, admitting full culpability for their actions. But if the woman thought the message was just a quick apology, she was in for a pleasant surprise. It was much better than that.
The next part of the sentence read, “I would like to give this to you to pay for the ticket and whatever else you need.” The remorseful motorist was putting their money where their mouth was. Tucked in the envelope alongside the apology was a wad of bank notes to back it up. The woman could not believe her eyes.
She had a handful of Andrew Jacksons staring back at her. She counted out five 20-dollar bills – $100 in cash more than covered the price of her parking ticket. And the money went a long way to make up for her inconvenience. The stranger had clearly felt terrible about the traffic fine and wanted to make it right again. To sign off the note, the anonymous person wrote something understanding and heartwarming.
The message concluded, “It can be tough around this time of year. Merry Christmas.” The woman was so amazed by what had happened that she shared the story online. Known only as Pemu on the image sharing site Imgur, she uploaded a picture of the message on December 23, 2015. And it didn’t take long for it to catch the attention of the mainstream media, including newspapers such as the U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail.
The story sparked a conversation among the newspaper’s readers, which brought to light some controversial and contentious opinions. Some people drew attention to the odd shape of the paper the notes were written on. They claimed something had been cut out. In short, the commenters were saying the message was not all it was cut out to be. They were convinced that the note had been fabricated as a way for the woman to get her 15 minutes of fame.
Some eagle-eyed Daily Mail readers turned out to be quite gifted at graphology. They noted that the handwriting on each side of the double note was suspiciously similar. Other commenters expressed concern over the logistics of the story. One person questioned how the stranger could have known how or where to deliver the cash for the out-of-pocket female.
Nevertheless, other people were quick to defend the woman’s story. They pointed out differences in the two examples of handwriting and justified the ways in which her story could be true. Some people thought it was irrelevant, and that the small note spoke a wider truth. One wrote, “Whether real or not, it appears to be a great example of handling a grievance in a civil, responsible manner.”
Aside from the cynics, this story seems to have touched the hearts of many internet users. The majority of social media users said that the actions of the parking spot thief were commendable, with one Daily Mail reader saying that it “reinstates my faith in humanity. I love it when people do the right thing.”