Being Polite Without Saying Sorry

Being Polite Without Saying Sorry

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…

  1. Coming out of the public toilet and seeing me standing in line.
  2. Reaching in front of me to get the coffee lids.
  3. Standing in front of the cereal shopping for cereal when I came to also get cereal.
  4. I found you a better price after all.
  5. For standing where I am, even though I was here first and there is plenty of room for both of us.
  6. The insurance company did not cover more of your dental expenses.
  7. I can’t make bookclub tonight.
  8. For the inconvience.
  9. Making noise while vacuuming.
  10. I can’t figure out this app to make it easier on you.
  11. Those were double vodka sodas by accident but I’m charging you for singles.

Being polite without saying sorry…

  1. Coming out of the public toilet and seeing me standing in line. Glad I got here before the line started.
  2. Reaching in front of me to get the coffee lids. Excuse my reach.
  3. Standing in front of the cereal shopping for cereal when I came to also get cereal. Say nothing–I already said, ‘Excuse me.’
  4. I found you a better price after all. Great news!
  5. 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.
  6. The insurance company did not cover more of your dental expenses. You’re insurance sucks.
  7. I can’t make bookclub tonight. Enjoy the night without me.
  8. Making noise while vacuuming. You are welcome for vacuuming you lazy cow.
  9. For the inconvience. I don’t know how to spell and you should pity me.
  10. I can’t figure out this app to make it easier on you. Suck it up and figure it out yourself.
  11. 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.


Comments

  1. I used to work with a Canadian. One day she yelled at some coworkers who were talking loudly and being generally obnoxious–I think they deserved to be yelled at. I feel bad for saying that even though they admitted they needed to keep it down. Then she apologized for yelling at them.
    When I was told all this the next day I said, “It’s a very Canadian thing to apologize, isn’t it?” and we all laughed. Yes, I repeated the stereotype. Sorry.
    Christopher recently posted…Enlightened.My Profile

    • Canadians all know it and we can’t help it. That is why I am making a conscious effort to find words that are not sorry. Maybe sorry will have more meaning that way when I actually need to use them, like when I yell in my blog (I did apologize recently for using all caps on one of my posts and I feel shame).

  2. I say I’m sorry (or just ‘sorry’) all the time, and I realize that it doesn’t really mean anything anymore. It’s more of an acknowledgement of a near miss than anything else. I have swapped “Excuse me” for some I’m sorrys, but the lack of meaning behind them is the same. I guess it’s human nature not to want to get into a fight (see – road rage) for something meaningless. A woman bumped into me years ago and I looked at her and smiled apologetically (I have no idea why) and she threatened to hit me if I didn’t stop looking at her. Sometimes you just can’t win.

  3. I love the constant “sorry” you get when in Canada, but I can see how it would get annoying to say all the time!

  4. Could you tell my Canadian wife that she is supposed to say sorry more often? I think she missed the memo. 🙂
    Arionis recently posted…642 Things To Write About – 5/642My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: