The note on my car.


Ok, I am not saying what I did was right, i’m just saying I never made the connection.  Allow me set the scene a little bit.  The Washington DC area had just been hammered by the second major snow storm of the year and parking was at a serious premium. I was pulling up to church, where I work and two of my children go to preschool, and I noticed an open parking spot directly in front of the main doors of the church.  Bonus!  And, someone had even cleared a little path through the three foot piles of snow on the sidewalk, directly in front of that parking spot, so my kids didn’t have to climb mountains of snow to get to the other side.  God was certainly smiling on me this particular morning.


At noon I picked up the kids from school, to go meet Rachel at our normal drop-off place, and while the kids were climbing into the car I noticed something moving on my windshield. Someone had taken time out of their day to leave me a note on my car.  This day was only getting better and better! Wrong!  I guess the little path someone had taken the time to dig out was designed to let everyone get through to the other side of the sidewalk, not just the person parked in that spot. Duoh! Well, you can read below the kind words someone left me on my car.  ”Thoughtless”? Maybe. “Jerk”? Ouch! Now that’s just mean!

The reality of this note is that someone was so  upset with me that they took the time to find an envelope and a pen and craft the thoughtful prose you see before you.  I am hoping that it was no one that works at my church.  I was thinking about running a 007 top secret handwriting analysis mission to see if I could find the author.  An experiment like that would probably end badly.

So, for the last 2 months I have kept this note in my car visor to remind me how it feels when someone says something mean about you, even if you don’t know the person. This note helped me realize that when I do something stupid I want people to handle me with grace. But, when someone else does something dumb I want justice done, and I want it done immediately! This post is a reminder to offer grace (unmerited favor) to the people around you because God offers it to us first, in the form of the cross! It also is to reminds us that words, both mean and nice, have real power to them.  Proverbs 15:4 – “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Ok, what would you have said to me if you wrote the note on my car? Would you have been meaner? Nicer? The best, most creative, pretend note on my car will win a box of cool greeting cards and envelopes to write encouraging letters to some of your friends. If you haven’t become an RSS or email subscriber to the ordained barista yet please do so! You’ll never know how much it helps!

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  • Kimberly Cundiff-Jefferson

    As a writer I know the power of my words, I have written poetry to make grown men cry. Now I know I don’t always choose my words wisely in the heat of the moment, I have hot the quick word trigger and said blah blah blah…then felt bad about it later. If I had written the time out to post a note on your car. It would probably have said:

    Dear Driver,

    I am sure you didn’t park in front of this path for own convenience, and block others out. This path was created for all to use so it would be easier for them to walk, now that you know better you can do better. Have a blessed day :-) Sincerely, Frustrated Walker

  • Lynne Griffin

    It appears that no one on staff has had the ‘servant-parking’ (ask Gerri or Pete) discussion with you. I can certainly see how you would have thought it was your lucky day! While I would have NEVER put such a note on your windshield, I would have hoped that an able-bodied person such as yourself would have left that spot for someone not as fortunate. aaahhh….the wonderful blessings of a land-locked downtown church!
    Also, I know that that particular spot is not the closest to either the preschool entrance or your office! ;)
    It was still unnecessary to put such a note. I hope the note-writer doesn’t treat everyone like this.

  • Jill Hicks

    My note would read:
    “Dear Driver, The way to Heaven, is through the narrow gate, please do not block it in the future!”

  • Tony Babcock

    Jill that is so awesome !!!! i will not even try to top that well rounded response. too good!

    If I have to be honest (and I do) I would love to be able to type out some well versed note and tell you i would put scripture on your car … that would be a total lie …

    I am just going to say that god is still working on me lol … but because of this blog Barry ….. I can say that I would not write a note in the future at all (to be safe) or my note would be much different now seeing how it has effected YOU. I would now say that I would pray for the person to see what they are doing …. Thank you for posting this … i guess this would be considered spiritual growth ??? Well I hope that I would do the right thing … I am finding guarding the words of my mouth is not as easy as I thought it would be. It IS making me a good listener as I am saying a lot less now. I have found that words are very much like a bullet … once fired they can not be stopped or taken back. Words carry even more power then ammo. I have to be so very careful about the ones i choose.
    Like Kim said above … words can also heal and do wonders. Jesus used words to raise people from the dead and do miracles. His words are in my favorite book. :>) Thank you Barry for showing me that I am on the right path.


  • Michelle Polchow

    Just went to grocery store where older woman had someone very loudly point out to her she was going wrong way and she was an idiot! After seeing your blog, I immediately thought, hey we all make mistakes!! Good to remind us. Thanks!

  • Shannon

    JILL WINS!!!!

  • Terry Mc

    Wow, Barry… you know some REALLY insightful people! Guess it helps being a minister, huh? Well, first and foremost… I think Jill is the clear winner! Clever, but not sarcastic, and the point was delivered! I am humbled and speachless (sp?), so am unable to form a better note. ;-)

    Now, you know me… I’m not a writer, but my rapier-like wit has certainly made grown men cry. Sometimes with laughter, but sometimes not. I DO try to curb the biting remarks that fly into my head, but after working all night, or dealing with the common-sense challenged college students, my patience runs thin. So, like Tony, I’m a work in progress, hopefully progressing faster than I seem.

    I try to see the other person’s perspective and hope that whatever slight (like parking in front of the path, or a thoughtless comment) was not intended to upsest or hurt anyone, just a moment of distraction. So much stuff is going through our heads at the same time, we all have those “I coulda had a V-8″ moments!

    Now, you were always nicer than I, so if you need someone to come down there and take care of whomever is mean to you, you let me know!
    Loves and blessings!

  • Gutty

    “How inconsiderate can you be, in front of a church no less. Hope you don’t work here. Gutty”

    I learned a long time ago that if you are not willing to sign a note you have written then you should not have written it. I fear that I would not have been much kinder than the writer you encountered. Yet, since I would sign my not, I would have left out the “thoughtless jerk” part. I might have thought it in my heart though. I still love you Barry, you thoughtless jerk:)

  • Caitlin K

    Have you ever seen the notes that the mailmen leave on your car if you park in front of your own mailbox? They are surprisingly mean, and sometimes they actually refuse to deliver your mail too. So if you are attempting to avoid notes on your car in the future remember that it is not a good idea to park in front of your own mailbox either.

  • Megan

    I am a doer (is that a word?) and would not have written a note for this one. I would have marched my angry hiney into the church office and asked around as to who’s car was blocking the walk and where that person was located. This is church, a family, so someone would know!
    So, I would then say, excuse me, did you know you are blocking the only path not covered with snow? They probably wouldn’t and would move the car. Yes, people make mistakes, and we don’t always think of others with the actions we take so it would be because of my anger that I sought out this person (Barry!) but it would be out of forgivness that I would point out the situation rather than to verbaly retaliate agains someone else. Who knows why that car was there? An emergency maybe? A grandmonther dropping off a child rather than a parent, not knowing the rules? I am very much aware of the mistakes I make but it is by humbling ourselves to the reality of “that could be me and my mistake” that I would hold my tounge and try to fix the wrong instead of letting all of that bitterness grow!
    I’m sure there was more than one person who wanted to say something that day, so why not speak up but in a manner that is Christian since we are all sinners. A eye for an eye is not a solution. Do you think that the mystery writer truly felt better after writing that note?

  • Megan

    Oh, and sorry for the poor spelling, I was in a hurry!

  • Chris Ridings

    For the DC area I think that counts as grace. :-) Ha Ha. I am surprised it was that nice.

  • Angela

    It is so easy to get caught up in our own agendas and at times we are very thoughtless. It seems that, as adults we still need discipline. Sometimes this discipline comes from our peers and sometimes it isn’t very kind. I my self can dish it out but can NOT take it. My first reaction is to cry.:)

    My approach would have been a lot more passive- aggressive. Something like:

    Dear driver,
    As you may or may not know it is very difficult to shovel snow. I worked very hard to clear this path for the elderly and expecting. I’m happy that you were able to enter the building with no obstacles.
    Have a blessed day.

    Is that too sarcastic?

  • The Ordained Barista

    Thanks Kim,
    I have often said something in haste to those I love and wish I could take it back. Thanks for the much kinder note!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Yes, I am embarrassed to confess I have had the “servant parking” discussion several times while on staff. Actually, if you measure the distance from the parking spot to the front door that particular is the closest parking spot to get in the building. The other spots are deceiving because while you appear to be in the lot that leads right up to the front door, you still have to walk much farther from your parking spot. Ok, I am not proud of any of this! Just being honest! :( I need to come to lancaster for some down time!!!!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Ok, listen. It’s never a good thing when a comment is better than the post! Ha just kidding! Fantastic letter! Short, creative and yet convicting on many levels! I am declaring you the winner of the “note on my car” contest! Fantastic Job~

  • Eric Garner

    “You have no idea what I will now do to your car.” That would be my note lol love the blog Moose.

  • The Ordained Barista

    You are soooo right! Jill’s comment was sooooo good! I hate it when a comment is better than the post! Oh, and by the way, you are in great company… I think God will always be working on me! Words and attitude always cary power to them! A lesson that I have been trying to learn for years. Being married for 12 years with 5 (soon to be 6) children have accelerated the process a little bit.

    But, again you are right to point us toward how Jesus used words! Amazing!

  • The Ordained Barista

    I think I have driven behind that lady before! What a great example of how we can be challenged by our words and actions!! Thanks Michelle!

  • The Ordained Barista

    Yeah. No Kidding huh! I hate it went the comment is better than the post!

  • tony babcock

    the coolest part of this whole discussion is i have been blessed by it !!! once again forcing me to clean my side of the street .. I am starting to see a pattern .. that when i see something in someone else that bothers me or upsets me … i need to take a good look at myself .. because chances are .. i am only noticing it because i do the same thing grrrrr ….