Sorry, Not Sorry

Blog

At this point, I can't help but wonder why my site is all book reviews and none of the cool (for appropriate definitions of "cool") blogging crap I usually write about.

Like, the drive yesterday from Offline Camp (amazing experience, tbs), I stopped in at a Pilot "Transport Center" (whatever that means), and picked up a quart of oil for the car (something one should carry whenever one is driving more than 300 miles) along with gas and a sandwich.

As I was wandering the convoluted aisles of this particular Pilot, I nearly bumped into a guy, who immediately said, "Sorry."

Having been made sensitive to the word sorry by Matthew, who firmly believes that a woman should not apologize for being in the space she has a right to occupy, as women tend to say "sorry" more frequently than men do (statistic pulled out of the air, confirmed by my unscientific confirmation-biased observations), I started pondering the guy's sorry.

I continued to ponder it on my drive, realizing that "Sorry" comes in three flavors:

  1. Sadness

    I am sorry for your loss.

  2. Apologies

    I am sorry I broke your favorite vase when I tripped over the rug.

  3. Excuse me

    Sorry. (I nearly bumped into you as we were both moving to the same space.)

The problem with these three definitions is that all three are valid, and none are guaranteed to be the only appropriate definition in any situation. I can recall this conversation happening many times:

"Oh, I'm sorry!"
"No need to apologize, it wasn't your fault."
"I wasn't apologizing, I am sad for your loss."

Yet, saying "I'm sad for your loss" is awkward. It makes the not great situation where the speaker possibly puts the spotlight on himself, instead of acknowledging the pain of the listener. It's a confusing situation, rife with even more communication errors.

While I continued driving, I realized that removing "sorry" from my casual vocabulary would help me, possibly others, to reduce this confusion. So, I'm going back to "Pardon," short for "Pardon me" when I'm about to or have already run into someone. "Please, let me apologize and say how sad I am for this thing I have done," when I am both apologizing and sad. And "I am sad about this situation" when I'm sad, adjusting the words to be more sincere.

There's little need for adding to the confusion generated by language, we have enough difficulties communicating already.

And now, I don't have a front page full of only book reviews.