Friday, May 22, 2009

My Apologies...


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.

21 comments:

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

Oh that's funny! I never took notice before, but it's true - I say it a lot. Although I don't think I've ever said it when I've been the "bumpee" and been somewhat injured. I've definitely said something else. Another thing I just noticed is that I usually spell "apologise" with a "z" - yikes! Must clean that up in my language.

The Guy Who Writes This said...

You mean all of Canada except Quebec.

oreneta said...

I have to say that I quite like this about us....I also have to say that a friend of mine who came to Canada from Japan actually found us quite rude!

There you go...

weirdness

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I must be part Canadian. I do that all the time.

Deidra said...

At dinner the other night, my daughter shared with us something she learned in college this year: women say "sorry" way more than they should. And way more than men. Now I wonder if that's just American women, or all women?

Charlotta-love said...

The best part is the accent on the front of the word. It's not 'sorry' but 'sore-y'. I love it.

And sore-y if this offends. :o)

Seraphine said...

they say it takes two to tango. so you might as well go with it and purposefully bump your cart into people you're attracted to. since that is what obviously what is being done to you.
sorry.
sorry.
can i make it up to you over coffee?
oh look! we use the same brand of toilet paper. it's kismet.

sherry lee said...

Sorry...I didn't read this sooner!! lol!!

I've even been seen to say sorry to inanimate objects when I've bumped into them...

If I had a nickle for every time I've said "sorry".....

Beth said...

bodhi chicklet:
Watch and listen - bet you say it when someone bumps into you, too! (Not the severely injured kind of bump though.)

guy:
Had a bad experience in Quebec? They kind of like it if you at least attempt to speak a little French - even just "Bonjour" will do.

oreneta:
I'd rather be known for our "Sorrys" than for being rude. Wonder what "we" did to make him/her think we were?

cheri:
Maybe it's a North American thing??

deidra:
I suspect it's all women but I wonder what prompts us to do that? What are we really apologising for?

charlotta-love:
I listened to myself. You're right - and no offense taken!

seraphine:
That would certainly beat on-line dating. Or maybe I should create Sorry.com?

sherry lee:
No need to apologise but I'll give you a nickle next time I see you!

laughingwolf said...

so true, b... just yesterday i answered a pollster on the phone... i said: not interested, sorry... then i slammed the receiver into its cradle lol

Bee said...

The English do this, too. The polite ones, anyway. I seem to have picked up on the habit.

Too many sorrys are better than not enough. In my book, anyway.

Laura said...

I must have been a Canadian in some life because I am forever apologizing for having having shopping carts bump into me. Does sorry also happen with cars? On that I am not Canadian, I am a pure-blooded cussing American.

cipriano said...

As several people note, I too have not ever thought of it before, but yes -- we are a needlessly apologetic type. I think I hear it said more than I myself say it, though.
I wonder if I inordinately say it. No, really... I am wondering. Maybe I do. I'm going to watch for this, this needless sorrying.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've learned a long long time ago to never apologize or admit wrong doing at work -- it's usually a sign of weakness. On another note, what's the exchange rate between Canada and the US? Is it even, or is the US dollar weaker?

Beth said...

laughingwolf:
Lordy, forgot about those ones. Yeah, I (stupidly) say "Sorry" with those irritating calls, too.

bee:
It is a strange, but lovely habit.
(Are all the MPs saying "Sorry" over there?)

laura:
Oh, we definitely have road rage and cussing here, too!

cip:
Just don't do any needless worrying over any needless sorrying! ;)

jr:
Makes perfect sense in your line of work.
($1.00 CAD = .8926 USD. More bang for your buck!)

JR's Thumbprints said...

I believe an apology is in order when my U.S. dollar doesn't buy me as much as it used to in Canada.

Beth said...

jr:
On behalf of Canada (and our not so bad economy compared to the rest of the world) my sincere apologies!

Zhu said...

Funny and... so true!

I noticed it when I first came to Canada, and now I'm apologizing more than I should as well. Guess I'm assimilating!

I won't survive a day in Paris if I ever go back to France though :D

RC said...

that's interesting, i will totally have to pay attention to that!

sometimes i say "ouch" when I "hurt" inanimate objects (example: i drop a book off the night stand I might say "ouch" as if I'm hurt by falling from the nightstand) don't know why i do it.

Barrie said...

I love this little habit. It softens the rough edges of life, somehow. And I love the way we say it too. ;)

Psychgrad said...

I keep telling my colleagues that we should collect a loonie every time someone says sorry. We could take the money and get trashed on a weekly basis.

Sorry.