Friday, January 18, 2019

…And on the other hand: what we love to say:

“Sorry,” said the lady on the elevator, who wanted off at my floor, as I promptly stepped aside, letting her pass before I stepped aboard. I hit the button, rose a floor, and the doors opened revealing a new woman facing me.

“Sorry,” said she, moving aside.

“No problem at all,” I said. And it wasn’t. Neither of these women offended me. And I’m fairly sure that neither of them actually suffered any regret despite their claims.

Here at the social assistance office I leave my comfortable lobby desk hourly to run a quick patrol of the cube farm behind and there I commonly brush paths with others. “Sorry,” they almost universally say to me. I never apologize just for needing the same space as them. I tend to just say hello, or depending on the circumstance I might say, “Pardon me.”

I think that pardon me is what they actually intend to relay but clearly that one extra syllable is just too exhausting so sorry becomes the peculiar briefer alternative.

I’m sorry I needed a space so near to your own…

I’m sorry my existence is threatening to cause you the merest of possible inconveniences…

I suppose we feel the need to exercise the word sorry without having to suffer any overt guilt and so we use it frivolously and call the job done. We use it when we are about to use a door at the same moment someone else intended likewise.

We don’t use it when we (or our phones) make unnecessary noise in public places, distracting others from their endeavours; their reflection; their evolution.

We don’t use it when we treat each others’ valuable time as a spectator for our pointless other people’s bad behaviour stories while busily ignoring our own bad behaviour; something infinitely more valuable to pursue.

(If this sounds like I’m doing exactly that, I would suggest that I am reflecting on societal phenomena as opposed to feigning shock at another specific person’s failure to be an angel - but you may judge me as you wish!)

No, we use sorry instead of a kind greeting. I’m sorry we have to share! How awful!

I think I shall not go forward as inclined; responding to these sad overtures by shouting “Don’t let it happen again!” I think I will start responding to this misplaced obsolete gesture with another misplaced obsolete gesture which I'm much more fond of, by responding, “I don’t know!”    

That’ll be sufficiently weird.

1 comment:

Skeeter Willis said...

I've been responding to these people by telling them that they have no need to be sorry. I've yet to receive subsequent rebuttal or thoughts of reconsideration in exchange. Perhaps these words will give them pause for thought...or maybe my suggestion falls on deaf ears. Either way, I feel like I'm having a positive influence.