Friday, May 22, 2009
Perhaps you have to visit or live in Canada to be aware of this strange idiosyncrasy of ours, but Canadians are notorious for saying, “I’m sorry” – usually shortened to “Sorry.”
And I don’t mean sorry in the sense of apologising for something we should indeed apologise for having done - although we do that, too.
Canadians will say “Sorry” on numerous (inappropriate) occasions. If someone bumps their grocery cart into another person’s cart or into that person’s vulnerable, unsuspecting body, the “bumpee” (or injured party) will immediately say, “Sorry.” This recently happened to me and, yes, I automatically said, “Sorry” when metal met hip. Hence the prompt for this post.
We will say “Sorry” whenever we are bumped into – either by a person or a thing being pushed by a person. We also say it when someone simply gets in our way – going through a door, up the stairs, onto an escalator… The possibilities and opportunities for us to utter the word are endless. We are over-the-top polite. Or strange. Or both.
The crazy (or crazier) thing is that the “bumper” or person responsible for the incident prompting the unwarranted apology also says, “Sorry” so we have two people apologising for the same incident. Of course, one of the two should be legitimately sorry. But why the other, “Sorry”? Indeed, one is sorry to have been hit by a grocery cart (it can hurt) but in an apologetic way??? But that’s exactly the inflection we give the word.
(Is this post as clear as mud???)
Anyway, if you are a visitor to Canada don’t be alarmed by the number of “Sorrys” you hear. Do not wonder about or go looking for any legitimate reason someone might be apologising to you. It could be a result of something you did – you might have inadvertently given someone a slight nudge and not even be aware of having done so.
This random bit of Canadian legend and lore has meandered on long enough. Sorry. I’ll end it now – don’t want to bore you….
See? Way too many apologies in this country – why should I be sorry for a long post? If you were bored you could have stopped reading it after the first few paragraphs.