When Mary Claire Caine walked into a Harris Teeter supermarket in Wilmington, North Carolina, recently for a routine shopping run, she had no idea that she would soon discover a jarring and upsetting message taped to her car window.
A mother of two who is also an Air Force Veteran, Caine had parked her car in a spot that is specifically reserved for military vets, but after she walked out of the store and loaded her groceries into the car, she noticed a paper affixed to the passenger side window.
Signed by an individual who referred to him or herself as a "wounded vet," the text on the note, written with a Sharpie, claimed that Caine had no place parking in that spot, according to WECT-TV.
"Maybe [you] can't read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America … not you," it read. "Thanks, Wounded Vet."
Caine, who served in Kuwait, was initially stunned by the letter, telling WECT-TV that she, at first, assumed the author might be confused.
"For a split second I thought, 'Am I a worthy enough veteran to park in this spot?' And, then I got very angry at myself for even considering that," she said, noting her belief that the person likely saw her gender and assumed she couldn't possibly be a veteran. "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."
She waited near her car after discovering the letter in an effort to try and find its author, but no one emerged.
"I want them to know 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," she said.