Ooops, sorry

In the 30 second journey from the bathroom to my desk I almost walked into three different people. These people ranged from a dainty Guardianista to a man who looked the human embodiment of a hod full of bricks, but they all said ‘ooops, sorry’ to me, spoken really fast, in a slightly strangulated voice, with polite and embarrassed facial expression.

This is the only English socially acceptable response to nearly bumping into someone at work. You can’t just say nothing, you can’t go “Look where you’re going, you dipstick”. You can’t stay and discuss how such near-misses could be avoided in future, perhaps with ‘stay left’ lanes or a deli counter-style ticket operation that allows only one person to be away from their desk at any given time. You just have to smile sheepishly and get on with your day, wondering at the madness of our automated etiquette-bot style existence.

Ooops, sorry.

edit: Immediately after I wrote this, I walked ’round the corner towards the stairs and right into a middle aged man. He looked at me with withering contempt, then walked away. He was probably foreign.


~ by jamboshoeshine on July 2, 2010.

5 Responses to “Ooops, sorry”

  1. Nearly said to someone who stepped on my foot and (accidentally?) elbowed me trying to get into Oxford Circus tube station yesterday, “Watch it, fuckface!” Instead I swallowed my anger and thought about kittens. I’m becoming acclimatized.

    • Public transport rules are different to office rules, because in public transport you are faced with total strangers. In the workplace you’re supposed to have a tiny spark of acknowledgement that you all work in the same place, even if you have no idea who anyone is. Thus you have to be nice, smile, and apologise. It’s something to do with communism

      • Communism? Every time I was in a communist country, I never heard any excuse whatsoever. Sorry.

  2. All this politeness makes me happy I don’t go to a workplace any more.

  3. @ Eva The communism thing was a joke, or at least a right-angle to what I really meant to say.

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