"I'm Sorry You Stepped on My Toe!"


My friend Kelly and I were talking the other week about how we apologize too much; how pretty much every request is prefaced with "I'm sorry." A few examples:
*When ordering a drink at a bar: I'm sorry, but could I please have a glass of wine?
*When purchasing cigarettes: I'm sorry, but could I have some matches?
*When buying groceries: I'm sorry, but would you mind scanning my discount key?

You get the idea. "I'm sorry I exist and have needs. I know I'm just asking you go do your job, but I'm really sorry I have to!"
There's also the "I'm sorry it's-your-fault" scenario. That is when you apologize to the person who just did something rude to you: Bumped into you when coming out of a door, stepped in front of you in the elevator, mangled your toe, spilled a drink on your shirt, stabbed you with a pen knife. Another variation on this theme is the "I'm sorry you're such a dick" phenomenon. That occurs when you are dealing with someone unreasonable such as the supervisor from Citizens Bank who refused to issue me a new debit card because I couldn't verify the date of my last withdrawal. In this case, I said, "I'm sorry that I can't remember the exact date that my car loan is directly debited from my account and that I don't know that bank's phone number off the top of my head. I'm sorry that it's been four years since I bought my car and had any one-on-one contact with them whatsoever."

Imagine how this translates in every day situations when you need something that another person is not required to do; i.e. you're not asking for it from a waiter, sales person, or other industry professional. That is nearly impossible.

Comments

Liz said…
I do it to. Sorry.
Anonymous said…
a wise lady once told me that i'm only allowed to say, "i'm sorry," once a day...
~celia

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