An Open Letter to the Person Who Left the Greatest Windshield Note of All Time

I actually found this note on my windshield

Dear Person Who Left the Greatest Windshield Note of All Time:

Earlier today, I found what I thought was an absolute gem of a parking space on Yesler Way in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle. Situated just south of downtown, Pioneer Square is known for two things: aggressive panhandlers and an utter lack of street parking (complemented by unreasonably expensive parking garages in inconvenient locations). But you know all this; you were parked in Pioneer Square.

I was in a hurry, on my way to an important appointment (haircuts are important). I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be late when, as I came up on the front of the building, I saw the aforementioned miracle of a parking space right in front of the door. The odds of finding this spot at just this moment were less than being more than 25 feet from a coffee shop at any given moment in Seattle. I looked around, wondering if I could hit the trifecta of spotting an actual Bush-voting Republican; but apparently it wasn’t my day to buy a lottery ticket!

Upon further examination, it was clear the spot would be a tight fit for my vehicle. I’ve provided a visual representation of the approximate size of the parking space below:

Ok, maybe the spot was a little tight

This usually isn’t a problem in the land of Priuses and Smart Cars, but I drive an old Toyota 4Runner. I’m clarifying this in case you didn’t notice the type of car due to the blind rage you were clearly experiencing as you scrawled the note you left. The 4Runner is an excellent ski and mountain vehicle but an awful city car and nearly impossible to park; parallel or otherwise.

At sixteen feet in length, plus another two feet or so for the hitch rack, you can imagine how much trouble I have maneuvering this thing around.

I’ll be generous and estimate the width of the parking spot at around nineteen feet. It was going to be a tight squeeze, but I was up for the challenge. Besides, I wasn’t going to miss my haircut.

To be fair, I am very, extremely bad at parking any sort of vehicle; much less a tank of a 4x4 with a giant cow catcher on the back. This has never stopped me from trying to fit into impossibly-small spots, which usually results in a 28-point turn and one wheel on the curb.

This is what it feels like when I try to park

Alright, I’ll own it. Over my 15-year driving career, I’ve managed to crash the drivers-side door and front quarter panel of two (yes, two) different cars into a stationary concrete pole (not the same pole, these incidents were 12 years apart) while backing out of a parking spot. I’ve ruined a set of ten-thousand dollar forged rims by repeatedly running them into the curb wile attempting to parallel park. I’ve bottomed out at least three different sports cars pulling in and out of driveways (you should really angle those things out).

Oh yeah, I tore the back bumper off a Lotus backing into a parking spot (I swear I didn’t see the parking block behind me). Instead of stopping and breathing when I heard the bumper lightly scrape the concrete, I slammed the car into first and tore off (bad pun, sorry), leaving half of the back of the car in the spot.

I could go on, it’s safe to say that if there were an award for the World’s Worst Parker, I’d be assured of a spot on the podium.

Sorry for the digression, I just wanted to make sure I qualified my complete lack of parking ability.

It only took me twelve or thirteen front-and-backs before I got into the spot and to be honest, I was really proud of myself. All four wheels were on the pavement, the car was (relatively) straight and I hadn’t hit anything in the process (or so I thought).

I popped out of my car and into my appointment, thinking nothing of it. After a refreshing 90 minutes of pampering, I skipped back to my car. My hair looked great; it was going to be a good day.

I saw what I thought was a parking ticket on my windshield and my heart sank immediately. I paid for parking using that incredibly-convenient Seattle parking app and I swear I wasn’t in a load zone! My perfect day was ruined, until I saw what was actually on my windshield.

Tucked under my wiper, I found the following note:

Thank you for making my day with this note

In case you’re reading this on a flip phone, mainframe terminal, or forgot what you wrote, I’ve retyped it here:

you fucking ass hole!
you fucking hit my car with your bike rack!!
thanks for the dent you fuckhead

I can only imagine the lack of proper case and punctuation was because you were in a rush, so I’ll forgive those otherwise easy-to-correct errors.

My day immediately went from awful to amazing again when I realized what I thought was a parking ticket was, in fact, the greatest windshield note of all time.

Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say I did give your car a love-tap with my bike rack. It’s entirely possible given all the factors of the situation. Even if I did, I’m pretty sure the car parked behind me was a dinged-up hatchback, not a Ferrari. So I understand being upset, but I don’t get the vitriolic rage poured out onto the paper.

I can only imagine how angry a Ferrari owner would be if his car was back into by a box truck, crushing the hood and the engine. This was not a Ferrari and from my understanding your car wasn’t pancaked. This is not to say it doesn’t totally suck to get a dent (I have gotten plenty of grocery cart dents over the years), I just don’t think the ‘punishment’ fit the crime.

This is not an actual picture of what happened, but judging from the note, you’d think it was

I did a quick walkaround of my car, thinking the person who left this absolutely had to be mad enough to write “fucktard” on my hood with a key or at least kick a door panel enough to dent it. Nothing. Confused, I did a once-over on the bike rack and noticed one of the wheel-holder-strap-thingies had been snapped off. I’m not going to speculate whether or not this was you (I don’t like to jump to conclusions, no matter how coincidental the timing may be) but it must have been pretty funny watching someone beat on / kick a bike rack in the middle of Yesler Way at 11AM on a Friday.

REI replaced the piece for free, so that’s a relief, eh?

The best part of the entire situation was that, although you took the time to write a profanity-laced note and break off a piece of my bike rack (no worries on that one, Pata-bro-nia), you didn’t leave your contact information so I could get a hold of you to pay for the damage! I can only imagine the thought process here, but it must have gone something like “the MONSTER who viciously smashed my car would NEVER consider making good on this”. Fortunately for you, you’ve vastly underestimated my people-pleasing demeanor which sparked this letter and the forthcoming offer to make things right (keep reading!).

Then I remembered I was in Seattle and everything started making sense. Driver behavior in this city can either be unbelievably frustrating or incredibly hilarious, depending on how you frame it. I’ve seen Seattle drivers honk at cars who have already passed them in the other direction (for doing things like turning right on red). I’ve had several experiences where an irate Seattleite will speed up to get next to me and sit there until I looked over at his death stare (he was very interested in making sure I knew how mad he was); all because I didn’t get into the exit lane a mile before the off-ramp.

So what I’m trying to say is: I get it. I’m not mad. And you know what? I want to pay for the damage.

I don’t want to re-traumatize you but I did want to share a heartfelt message from the bike rack herself; she feels terrible about bonking your bumper:

I don’t know how the heck I’m going to get a hold of you to make things right, but I’ll post this letter on Facebook and hope that maybe it gets back to you so we can settle up. My email should be listed somewhere on this publication and I have a blank check with your name on it.

I honestly hope this gesture will make up for the frustration I caused and maybe next time someone merges into a lane 200 yards in front of you, you won’t lay on your horn for the next 45 seconds.

In the meantime, I’ve framed the note and put it on my desk where it never fails to put a smile on my face.


Chris Styduhar