In Search for the Perfect Response

Last week, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I had to pick up a few packages from the post office, but none of the parking spots nearby were open. It was drizzly and I didn't want to carry an armful of boxes in the rain.

My eyes settled on the handicap parking spot across the street, clearly painted blue with a handicap sign posted in front of it. I'll just park there and do a quick in-and-out, I reasoned. I figured it'd take no more than five minutes. So, I parked the Jeep, ran across the street, asked for my packages and ran back out. 

As I was packing the backseat of the car, I noticed an old woman staring at me from her parked car. I hurried along and ran to the driver's door. 

"You're parked in the handicap spot! Can't you read?!" she screamed at me. 

"Yes, I'm just about to leave," I said, flustered. 

"You've been parked there for a while!" she screamed back angrily, "Next time, READ!"

Her car screeched off. 

The level of hostility that was spewed at me in that brief moment shocked me to the core. I mean, it really disturbed me. It continued to bother me for the next hour or so as I drove. 

What a mean old lady, I thought. What a witch! Goodness gracious. What should I have said to her? "Sorry you're having a bad day"? "Don't let this ruin your day"? How about "Why don't you try reading a Bible?"?  No, no, no. Too sarcastic and patronizing. I wasn't prepared enough for a response.

I had a stomachache the whole time I thought about it. Don't let this ruin your day, I told myself. Nothing that came through my mind made me feel any better. Eventually, as I went about my errands, the angst subsided. 

As I got back into the car to drive home, I thought about it again. Truth was, I knew I shouldn't have parked in the handicap spot. I could've parked further away and walked to the post office. Maybe she was handicapped and I had robbed her of her spot.

Then, the perfect response came to me.

I should've said: "You're right. I'm sorry. Thank you for pointing that out. I'll be more aware next time."