I Wish to Apologize (Sort of)

The non-apology apology as an art form


I Wish to Apologize (Sort of)

Collective nouns like a murder of crows, a gaggle of geese, a parliament of owls, a troupe of baboons (and a Klan of Trump supporters?) can also be applied to nationalities. Apparently, a flock/heard/gaggle or pod of Canadians is called an “apology” of Canadians. Who knew?

The worst apology I ever received in a law office was from a senior lawyer 30 or more years ago, who snapped abruptly about some obscure statute he expected I knew about. He apologized to me later “for making him so angry” (his exact words). Like “I’m sorry you feel that way,” this is what is now called a “non-apology apology”; something that has become an art form in legal and political circles of late. It’s a milquetoast apology that makes a sincere apology meaningless.

I want to get on this non-apology-apology bandwagon and sort of apologize for a few things that I have done or said, which I sometimes regret, but mostly don’t.

I have occasionally turned my sprinklers on during “non-watering hours” in part because the city wrecked the boulevard in front of my house so that virtually nothing grows (including my lawn), and in part because it’s Vancouver and it will always rain buckets and flood my basement come November. However, I’ve been told that using my sprinklers during non-authorized hours is evil, morally wrong, and that I am the enemy of the people. Thus, I deeply and humbly apologize for my occasional over-sprinkling. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. In the world of lawn watering, I play the odds and will pay the fine if it comes to that. In the world of apologies, I’m sorry if you’re upset.

I’m sorry, but when I’m traveling on the BC Ferries to Salt Spring, I will take an extra mustard package with my hot dog so that I have some emergency condiments on my boat “just in case.” Likewise, I get confused at food fairs by the existence of 15 separate bins in which to separate my garbage, so I leave my tray on the table. I’m sorry food fair operators have made my life more complicated.

When I am away from the office on holidays, I sometimes keep my “out of office” message on my computer and on my phone for a few extra days after my return so that I can “catch up,” and so that my clients don’t think I’m back in the office yet. For that, I apologize. But I’m going to keep doing it.

My wife and I were in New York recently to see a few plays. After Bryan Cranston’s “Network” was over, pictures of American presidents were shown on large screens throughout the theatre as people were leaving. When Donald Trump’s picture was shown, most of the audience booed loudly. Instead of booing (which seemed uncouth and un-Canadian), I screamed “Russian Traitor” and scared the woman next to me. I apologize for startling her.

I like fireworks on Canada Day, Halloween and the annual “Celebration of Light” in English Bay. A friend said that fireworks celebrations should be banned province-wide because they scared her doggies. I rolled my eyes and said that when dogs could vote, we could have a referendum, but until then, a few dogs (and their owners) shouldn’t ruin the enjoyment of the majority of humans who enjoy fireworks; especially when I have to navigate around dog poop on my front lawn and listen to them bark at night. I humbly apologize for rolling my eyes.

Maybe we should create a national holiday called “Apology Day” where Canadians can apologize to each other in our offices, in shops, or even on the street for things that we did, might have done, or which we might one day do or say that someone could conceivably think is dastardly, wicked, unpleasant, disagreeable, distasteful, villainous, politically incorrect, heinous or in some way nasty and therefore deserving of an apology, (notwithstanding our free speech Charter rights).

Or, perhaps we could just stop apologizing so damn much?

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