- Last Record: 2013-04-12 17:45:48 +0100
- Joined: Jul 10, 2010
(written 6th September 2011, on the bus journey to work.)
‘Sorry. Actually no, I’m not sorry’
The fact that this was said as a joke, when some wine was spilled at a recent party I went to, speaks volumes about the British penchant for retractions and confessions. That we wouldn’t verbally atone for such an act is the stuff of comedy. We even apologize when we are not sorry, thus undoing our constant, and on occasion genuine, efforts to avoid offence.
Most annoyingly is the use of our seemingly favorite word when we actually mean to say ‘excuse me’, or worse, ‘thank you’; a misdemeanour so oft committed on public transport. I left my house for work fifteen minutes ago but I have already apologized once and have seen three people all say sorry to each other in the queue for the bus. Queuing, of course, takes second place in the long list of Habitual Acts of Ridiculousness in Her Majesty’s Fair Albion.
I once queued for twenty minutes for a train ticket at Euston Station, only to get to fifth place in the line and realize that this was actually a queue to ask a man for information, and that all the ticket kiosks were free. True to form, I apologized needlessly for my blunder and sheepishly made my way to the man holding back a laugh behind one of the ticket desks, which had been available throughout.
Queuing aside, why do we apologize so much? If we were a rude nation, then it would follow that we would have to apologize more, would it not? No, we would be rude and say nothing, you idiot! We are polite, too polite, for fear of actually letting the general public get a glimpse behind our ‘terribly sorry’ masks, which are fitted on, bespoke, in childhood, intended to bespeak a sincere heart. Indeed, children may cry and wail in redress, but will not be forgiven unless they utter the ‘magic word’ to their parents.
There’s no turning back though; if I had not said sorry to the lady who I overtook too suddenly on the pavement two doors down from my house (approximately ten seconds into my day in the outside world) I would have been ‘tutted’ at, and worse, felt incredibly rude when I heard the a capella trio of apologies on the number 8 bus for the same impropriety.
All in all, it’s probably better to apologize than to offend, even if overtaking someone in the street is not, by any account as offensive as, heaven forbid, standing on someone’s foot or passing wind in a lift (for which, strangely, no one ever apologizes). Thus, I am sorry for calling you an idiot earlier. Or am I?