Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Excess of Apologies


Now, let me state that I am a habitual apologiser. Anything bad that happens to someone, regardless of whether I was involved or not, I say "Sorry" to empathise.  If something is, or might be, my fault, I'll craft the best apology you can think of.

But even I found this a little over the top.

On Tuesday night, myself and my wife were travelling back from London to our home in Yorkshire via train.  Now, the train was stuffy, I didn't have much leg room, I was tired and a bit grumpy, and then the train was delayed.

And delayed again after that.

In a nutshell, the train in front of us ran into two trees (not at the same time I should clarify, that would be just too much of an adrenaline rush, the train ran into one, stopped for a bit to catch its breath, and then decided that the experience was so much fun that it would locate a second one to collide with) and our train driver, instead of running into the back of the first train, slowed down.

So, we got incessant apologies over the train's PA system, for the next three hours, as the train manager virtually lay herself prostrate at our mercy due to their ineptitude.

But the thing is - none of it was reasonably anyone's fault.

Tuesday was a windy day and, one could safely assume, the trees were not suicidal but rather were blown onto the line.  The first train had to slow down / stop to allow the trees to be removed because otherwise they would crash.

Our train driver didn't drive the train off the rails in search of nefarious-looking trees.  The train went along the lines, because that's all they can do, and they had to delay a little to clear the line.  These things happen - it's called life.

Nevertheless, I must have heard in excess of twenty apologies as the train manager would apologise for the late arrival of the train at each station, and then apologise again after leaving each station, just in case someone made it on board that needed an apology and hadn't heard one (although I bet the stations were apologising just as much as well).

Are apologies overused in modern society?  Or are people just so fractious that any customer service representative that dares to tell the truth rather than resort to an apology is in the wrong job?