Sorry Seems To Be The Kindest Word

While negotiating my way through the fairly crowded aisles of the local grocery store the other day, I apologized to a lady as I passed in front of her while she was perusing the canned vegetables.
“That’s alright!” she laughed.
I said “Sorry!” again as I passed in front of an older gentleman as he stood back to decide on a particular flavour of ice cream.
“That’s ok!” he chortled.
Another lady was examining the various types of yogurt with her young daughter. I really needed a tub of sour cream that she just happened to be standing in front of. I could have waited. Perhaps should have waited. Instead, “Sorry – could I just grab that sour cream there!” came out of my mouth. “Absolutely!” she replied. I was taken aback.
I had half expected all of them to not respond at all, at the very least.
Perhaps even give an annoyed chuf or tsk.
But no.
This continued several times throughout my shopping excursion that day.
I could have said “Excuse Me” each time.
But I chose to say “Sorry.”
The very Canadian word, “Sorry.”
And it seemed to have a much nicer effect.
People seemed to be more accommodating.
More willing to step aside, allow me to pass, move back.
I always said “Thank You,” mind you, and often felt compelled to giggle, as if we were all in on some giant joke.
And this being a pandemic and all, well, perhaps we need one of those.
I am not sure if using the word “Sorry” elicited a heightened feeling of kindness in people.
Or stirred up a feeling of cooperation or consideration.
Or perhaps just made them feel acknowledged, that I had recognized that they were a person standing there.
I only know that it seemed to extract a response that was unexpected, welcomed, and left both of us feeling good.
More than the words “Excuse Me” would have.
Moreso than if I had said nothing and just barged and charged in and ahead.
I did not feel like I had done something wrong, in saying “Sorry.”
I did not feel like I was acquiescing to some unforeseen circumstance or giving in or giving up.
It is just a word, a word that means, technically, admitting a wrongdoing and feeling regret or sorrow over an unfortunate situation.
However, apologizing, according to Verywell Mind, establishes dignity for those who are hurt, (or in this case, displaced), helps them safe face, (in that I am acknowledging it is my fault they have to move), repairs relationships (or just smoothes things over) and makes people feel comfortable (as opposed to uncomfortable or put out).
And despite the theory that the more we say sorry, epecially for things we can’t control, like sneezing or getting bumped into by someone else, may make people think less of us or lose respect for us, I will soldier on.
And I blame it on the British in my blood.
A survey found that more British people than North Americans apologized.
And being Canadian of British parents, I am holding true to my polite English heritage, and going with my own personal theory that it does make interactions between strangers, or anyone, for that matter, that much nicer.
So, sorry, not sorry for saying sorry!


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