A Parking Lot Apology

Photo by ShekuSheriff / pixabay.com

By Richard Bauman

Driving through the supermarket parking lot I almost ran over a woman hurrying from the store to her car. I had made a mistake: I was looking to the left and turning right when she charged out of the store, pushing an overflowing shopping cart almost directly in front of my car.

I barely missed hitting her.

Fortunately, she saw me and stopped just as I skimmed by. She yelled something at me, which I didn’t understand through the closed car window. But she left no doubt she was angry over my negligence.

Instantly, I seethed with anger, too. It was her fault, not mine, my mind told me. In that nanosecond of time I rationalized that if she hadn’t rushed into the parking lot, and if she had been paying attention, she wouldn’t have nearly walked in front of me.

My hand was on the window crank and I was starting to roll down the window to shout back at her, but I stopped.

While she might have erred in thinking that I saw her and I would stop, I had blundered, too. Turning in one direction while looking the opposite way was not driving safely.

I parked my car an aisle away from hers. Not sure what I was going to say, let alone what she was going to tell me, I quickly prayed: “God, please give me the words to heal this situation.” Then I walked toward her.

She saw me coming and her jaw set tight, her eyes bore into me and her expression told me she was going to let me have it. I’m certain she thought I was going to verbally blast her, thus she seemed eager to get in the first volley.

“I’m going to report this,” she shouted. “Don’t think I won’t. Just watch and see.”

With calmness that belied the tightness in my chest, I said, “I just wanted to tell you I am sorry that I scared you. I didn’t see you right away.”

With calmness that belied the tightness in my chest, I said, “I just wanted to tell you I am sorry that I scared you. I didn’t see you right away.”

Her eyes opened wide, and her jaw dropped a little. It was as if she was hearing something she couldn’t believe. With a little less sharpness in her voice, she responded, “Well, I thought you did it on purpose.”

“No. I just didn’t see you,” I reiterated. “I was looking the wrong way when I turned. I am sorry I scared you.”

In a voice several decibels lower, and calmer, she thanked me for apologizing. I said goodnight, and walked back to my car.

I wish I could say peace and serenity filled my heart. Not so. I was piqued she hadn’t recognized her mistake and apologized for her part in the incident. I was surprised by the hostility I felt toward her because apparently she wasn’t sorry for her actions.

I know it isn’t unusual to feel animosity toward others, even when we are at fault. But I also know I don’t have to act on those feelings.

I’m sure there are numerous places in Scripture that address my ill will, but two I especially like are:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27)


“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

I pray that each time I err I will recognize it, have to courage to promptly admit it, and accept the other person’s response—no matter what it might be.

Richard Bauman is a freelance writer from West Covina, California. He has authored five books: Awe-Full Moments: Spirituality in the Commonplace, It Made a Difference to that One, Holy Humor: If This is Church, Why are we Laughing?Bible Oddities, and Women of the Bible: A Quiz Book.

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