Canadians, as a collective, are known to the rest of the world as a very polite people. When I was abroad, and somebody found out that I was from Canada, they usually commented on how great my country is, and how polite and clean we are. The biggest complaint they usually had would be about our recent foreign policies, and I would apologise for every wrong doing Canada has done…EVER.
Canadians apologise for everything, from bumping into somebody unintentionally on the street, to original sin, we, as a people are sorry for it. We apologise SO much, that we’ve diluted the meaning of the word… and I’m really sorry for that.
A friend of mine from Hong Kong once asked me “why do all of you people say sorry so much? Do you think a single word absolves you of your wrongdoings, or do you actually think that everything is your fault?” I asked if it made him uncomfortable… Then apologised for it. I didn’t have an answer for him, and told him I was sorry for that too. He then screamed for me to stop saying sorry. I told him that I was sorry that I had enraged him and offered to buy him a beer. After the bartender apologised that they were out of his brand, I begged his pardon, and left for the bus. The first one that came had “Sorry, Not In Service” blinking on it’s display, so I called a cab, but I must have an old number because I got a recorded message that said “We’re sorry, the number you dialed is not in service”. I apologised to the recording for bothering it.
I work for a large Canadian theatre company, and this week, we are in technical rehearsals for a musical. Saturday was the first time that the actors, musicians, design team, and crew were all in the same room to rehearse… And we don’t have much time. Management is sorry for the short schedule, but they are confidant we can get everything done in time. Rehearsal is from noon to midnight, and I decided to count the number of times somebody said “sorry” in that 12 hours.
The script is American, so the word “sorry” only appears 3 times.
A typical first rehearsal starts with introductions, and then apologies for the incomplete set and for the short schedule. Someone is always in the washroom and didn’t hear the announcement to come to the stage so they ask for forgiveness. The designers apologise for what is lacking from their various departments, stage management says they are sorry for how long the day will be, but for those who are not needed right away, there are books and games in the green room to amuse them while we rehearse.
One of the games is Sorry.
We start, and someone misses a cue. A round of “sorries” erupts from everybody and I lose count, ending the experiment. My count to that point was 37 apologies. We had been rehearsing for twelve minutes.
So I took those numbers, and averaged it out to 3 apologies every minute, which means around 2100 “sorries” over the entire rehearsal (sorry, my math may be off. We’re a polite people, but not very bright). I then timed out how long it takes for one of us to expel the word from our mouths… Just over a second… Which means that roughly a total of 36 minutes of rehearsal time is wasted on asking forgiveness for imaginary wrong doings, bodily functions that we can’t control, and …. Sorry, I can’t think of a third thing.
I then calculated the amount of money lost to the theatre company because of this and it works out to about $30000 a day in lost wages.
Ok, sorry, but I think there is something wrong with this calculator that I bought from that guy on the street with the overcoat. But you get the idea.
Again. I’m really sorry…