Can We Still Say We Are Sorry?

From the time the incident happened until everyone left, I waited for one... simple... thing....

by Deedra Abboud in Mindset
September 13, 2015 0 comments

An apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.– Margaret Lee Runbeck

A few years ago I stopped by Rally’s in Tempe, Arizona for a beef hotdog. I happen to love hotdogs. If you are not familiar with Rally’s, it is one of those fast-food places with two drive-thru’s, a walk-up order window, and some outdoor seating. Chicken, hamburgers, and hotdogs cooked like on a backyard grill.

Two girls in their 20’s and dressed casually, like they were maybe University students (Arizona State University is within a couple of miles), were at the front of the order window. Next in line were two guys in their 30’s, dressed in suits like they were on their lunch break from an office job. Then came me.

As we stood there on this beautiful sunny day [most days in Arizona are beautiful and sunny], the Rally’s employee came to the window, handed the two girls their drinks, and announced they were out of ketchup packets. While I was unconcerned because I believe if the fries are good, ketchup is not needed, the two groups in front of me were visibly dump-founded and unhappy. One guy stepped forward and asked if they had ketchup at all. The employee said yes, they had ketchup in a container but not the packets. The guy then asked if the employee could squirt some ketchup in a container, to which the employee paused, obviously having not considered the option, and said yes.

As the employee walked away, the girls turned toward the other people in the line while drinking their sodas. Then the second guy says, ”You would think ketchup packets would be a staple for a fast-food restaurant serving fries.” One of the girls burst out in laughter… spewing the soda from her mouth all over the first guy.

All of us stood for a moment in shock.

It was one of those time-slowing-down moments. The guy is covered in soda: his face, his torso, his pants, even his shoes. The girl must have been really sucking on that straw.

As we all stood there in shock looking at the poor guy, the girl then busts out laughing again, exclaiming, “Oh My God! Oh My God!” Seconds went by and she continued to repeat the same “Oh My God!” while laughing. The guy is visibly upset. He looks at her and then leaves the line and starts walking around the parking lot – obviously trying to calm down.

The girls get their order and move to the outdoor tables. The guy comes back and joins the other guy, they both order, and then they too take their food to the outdoor seating – one table away from the girls.

I place my order, which I had planned to take back to my office to eat, but decide to eat in my car so I could continue to watch the scene. The guys sit at their table and eat. The girls sit at their table and eat. Neither group talks to the other. Eventually they each leave.

From the time the incident happened until everyone left, I was waiting for one thing.

An apology.

She never apologized. Not once. Even during her exclamations of “Oh My God!” no apology ever came out. I kept waiting for “Oh My God! I am so sorry!” But it never came. I am sure that is really what upset the guy so much he had to walk around the parking lot to cool off. But even after they each sat down, so close to each other, for the 15 minutes or so it takes to eat a fast-food meal, still no apology.

The poor guy did not even get the smell of sorry.

I was dumb-founded. Still am. Has common courtesy become that out of the ordinary?

Has saying we are sorry become that hard? If we cannot say it in an accidental situation where, I strongly suspect, we really would be sorry, then do we find it just as difficult to say it within our closest relationships?

I wonder….

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