Apologizing for Incident from Long Ago


Dear Rabbi,
About 20 years ago, I came to a car rental facility. They refused to rent me a car because my credit was insufficient at the time to qualify by their standards. I eventually rented from another company that had more lenient requirements. But not before I went on a fuming tirade several minutes long in which I called the woman behind the counter every derogatory name I could possibly think of. Obviously this woman was alarmed. After this incident, I felt remorseful and extremely ashamed of myself. This was just a reaction of desperation in which I lost control. I have rarely ever acted like this in my life.
I moved on from this incident, thinking I would never see her again. Since then, my financial situation and my credit improved. Working in a much different career now, I got sent on another business trip to the same place. The company I now work for booked me a car rental from the same facility. I was nervous, but I reasoned with myself that after 20 years, none of the same people who saw this are likely to be there, and even if they were, they wouldn’t remember me or the incident.
During the incident back then, the woman had told me she had worked there over 27 years. I was certain that after so much time, she would not be there anymore. If she was, that meant she would have to be working there for at least 47 years, which I considered unlikely.
I came to the very same counter where I stood 20 years earlier. I remembered the location, but I was sure no one would remember me. And no one did. The gentleman who made my transaction was so young, he must have been a schoolboy back then.
But to my horrors, I was shocked to find that an older looking version of the woman I yelled at working there, at a desk behind the counter, seemingly in a managerial position. I was pretty sure it was her. She didn’t notice me, but I was really nervous as I made the transaction.
What am I supposed to do about a situation like this? She may or may not be the same person. If she is the same person, she may or may not remember this incident. Rather than apologizing, I tried to play it safe and avoid getting noticed.
I will be at this location in three more days to return the car. Since I am not completely sure if it’s the same woman, or if she would remember if it’s really her, do you think it is better if I try to apologize to her for what I did 20 years ago? Or is it better just to leave it be?



  1. However uncomfortable and embarrassing it will be, the correct thing to do is to approach the lady and ask her if she is the same person from twenty years ago. And, if she is, apologize profusely and sincerely for what happened all those years ago. If she is not the same person, you do not need to explain anything to her unless you are interested in trying to track her down in order to apologize to her.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team