Being Polite Without Saying Sorry
June 20, 2019
My group of friends and I meet every Wednesday during the school year for an hour of exercise and an hour chat (Obviously, there are snacks… we are not crazy). It is organized at a church through an organization called MumNet. I have been doing this for 17 years every week. When the kids were little we would talk about little kid stuff. Now that we are veteran parents, we talk about all sorts of problems or just have fun.
A few weeks ago we talked about apologizing. It is a widely held fact that Canadians say sorry for pretty much everything. As a group, we are all trying to eliminate the overuse of the word in our daily lives. As a result, I am hyper-sensitive to people using the word and have catalogued the apologies I received the last 5 days alone. They are here for your amusement. I’m sorry, but Canadians be crazy. (You saw what I did there?)
I’m sorry for…
- Coming out of the public toilet and seeing me standing in line.
- Reaching in front of me to get the coffee lids.
- Standing in front of the cereal shopping for cereal when I came to also get cereal.
- I found you a better price after all.
- For standing where I am, even though I was here first and there is plenty of room for both of us.
- The insurance company did not cover more of your dental expenses.
- I can’t make bookclub tonight.
- For the inconvience.
- Making noise while vacuuming.
- I can’t figure out this app to make it easier on you.
- Those were double vodka sodas by accident but I’m charging you for singles.
Being polite without saying sorry…
Coming out of the public toilet and seeing me standing in line.Glad I got here before the line started. Reaching in front of me to get the coffee lids.Excuse my reach. Standing in front of the cereal shopping for cereal when I came to also get cereal.Say nothing–I already said, ‘Excuse me.’ I found you a better price after all.Great news! For standing where I am, even though I was here first and there is plenty of room for both of us.Nothing to be said here. The insurance company did not cover more of your dental expenses.You’re insurance sucks. I can’t make bookclub tonight.Enjoy the night without me. Making noise while vacuuming.You are welcome for vacuuming you lazy cow. For the inconvience.I don’t know how to spell and you should pity me. I can’t figure out this app to make it easier on you.Suck it up and figure it out yourself. Those were double vodka sodas by accident but I’m charging you for singles.You are welcome.
Test yourself. I bet you say sorry for more than you think even if you are not from Canada. The awareness of it has been an eye-opener. The most common ‘Sorry,’ I was part of (we or them) this week was in holding the door for someone. Am I really sorry that when I was holding the door open you to had to pick up your pace to take advantage of the gesture? No, I’m appreciative or your interest in hurrying and I will not accept your apology for holding me up. I made a choice to be nice and I don’t need you to be sorry for it when a simple, “Thank you,” will do.
Maybe Canadians are a joke, or maybe it is what makes us endearing. When our waitress apologized for serving us doubles, I told her about our ‘sorry experiment’ and said there was no need to apologize. She told me a story she said I could share. She had been living in London and was coming back to Canada for the first time in months. When she got off the plane and was riding the escalator down, the person in front of her and barely brushed her bag against her and said, “Sorry.” She told us she thanked the woman for saying that and began to cry because she was home.
However you think of it, being sorry is being polite. Sure, we overuse it in Canada, and I will still try and curtail the use of it in some situations. However, if I bump into you, rush so as not to inconvenience you, or inadvertently bud in front of you in line, I won’t be sorry for being sorry.