Sorry not sorry.

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Thoughts

This is something that has been bothering me for a while, and seems to be a specifically British (or English?) problem.

People saying sorry.

For everything.

All the time.

Where I work, they tend to employ quite nice people (if I may say so myself), and so it’s an intense manifestation of this particular problem. Below are a few scenarios I find happening all_the_god_damn_time at work.

Scenario 1

Person 1 and person 2 walk past each other.

Person 1: “sorry!”
Person 2: “sorry!”

Both people, for some reason, feel bad that they were walking in roughly the same place at roughly the same time and could potentially have almost brushed past each other.

Scenario 2

It’s breakfast time and people are making toast. Person 1 goes to reach for the butter at the same time as person 2.

Person 1: “sorry!”
Person 2: “sorry!”

Both people, for some reason, feel bad about the fact that they wanted to butter their toast at the same time. Heaven forbid.

Scenario 3

Person 1 holds the door open for person two. Person 2 runs to walk through the door person 1 is holding open.

Person 2: “sorry!”

Person 2 feels bad that person 1 held the door open and needed to wait a milisecond for person 2 to catch up and walk through the door which was being held open for them.

Why need to stop being sorry

Sorry is something you say to someone you’ve genuinely hurt or when you have ACTUALLY done something wrong. But because we use it all the time for stupid, menial crap that doesn’t actually warrant a sorry at all, its meaning has been somewhat watered down.

Moreover, it’s self-deprecating and self-effacing.

I don’t know if this is some bizarre manifestation of white middle-class colonialist guilt in which we’re directing our apologies to the wrong people over the wrong things, or just a Victorian throwback to an attempt to be “polite” and humble which has gone horribly wrong, but it needs to stop.

We have every right to walk in the same place as someone else in the same time. We have every right to reach for the butter at the same time as someone else. We have every right to make person 1 wait for us to catch up if they have held the door open for us, because they have chosen to make that gesture.*1 *2

Where we go from here

Stop apologising for existing. It is your right to exist. From now on, you should be exhibiting the below behaviours (unless you have something genuine to apologise for)

That is all.

*1 Regarding the door-holding, this is something I’ve never quite been able to fathom. Person 1 holds the door open for person 2, thinking that it’s polite, but in the process actually utterly inconveniences person 2 because person 2 then feels they have to speed up their otherwise casual walking pace – nay, run – in order to get through the door without making person 1 have to wait longer. Personally, I’d rather person 1 just didn’t hold the fucking door open and let me do it myself. Am I right? Holy crap.
*2 Turns out someone on reddit nailed this particular problem with a diagram.

 

The Author

Bristol-based artsy liberal feminist. Mama to three ferrets.

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