Useless Apologies

closeThis post was published 12 years 9 months 1 day ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

This is a canned post, written before I left for Chicago yesterday.

Apologies have their uses. When one makes a mistake, messes someone else up, causes harm to another person or someone else’s property, etc., it’s nice to be able to say you’re sorry. But apologies don’t extend, as far as I’m concerned, to events beyond the speaker’s control.


When I was shopping for my Roland EDIROL R-09 the other day, we first went to the wrong store (Best Buy has a lot of locations here in Minneapolis, the site of their corporate headquarters). I said it was the wrong store, but my mom (my ride) insisted that it was right. We went in, asked about the voice recorder department, went back, looked, consulted with another salesperson, and were astonished to learn that the store didn’t have the R-09. Then we asked which location it was.

I was right! So we went to the other store, got the recorder, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Before we left the first store, though, the saleswoman we were asking apologized profusely for our coming to the wrong store. No matter that sounded like our mistake was a common one (the two locations are often confused, apparently; they’re a mere two miles apart). There was nothing she could have done to influence our choice. No input, no knowledge of the problem beforehand, no way to issue a correction. Why did she apologize?

Yes, my mother and I were good-naturedly needling each other about the mistake — mostly me, because I had been correct 😀 — but was that why the saleswoman was so sorry about our mistake? Perhaps I was acting too belligerent. I have noticed a trend around here (I think it’s a Midwest thing) that sarcasm is often taken as fact by people outside the primary group in which the sarcasm is taking place. This is by no means the only instance. Maybe she thought I was mad at my mother? I don’t know. (I wasn’t, not at all!)

This kind of thing drives me bonkers the same way it does when waitresses and waiters at Oriental restaurants thank me when they fill my water glass (or whatever beverage I have). That’s a subject for another post — maybe; it might be too small a topic — but these kinds of things make no sense to me at all.


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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