To the ‘If’s and But’s’ Apologisers

I’m a laid back kind’a Libran. My boundary between what is and isn’t acceptable is a wide one. Something can encroach into my boundary, to a certain point, and I’ll debate with myself whether to challenge it or not. Once it passes over the line on this side of the boundary I will take action.

The other day I took myself off into town for a cuppa and a general peruse of the main street of our town.

I do this at irregular intervals to, a – make sure I’m still occupying the same reality as most of the world around me, (a side effect of writing SF set in all sorts of otherworldly locations) and b – to observe human interactions for character fodder. I usually end up in my favourite cafe for a bracing chai latte before heading back to Widderlake and my own multi-universes.

The cafe was fairly full. A couple caught my attention. They’d chosen to sit at one of those low-table-and-overstuffed-armchair combinations that force you to speak louder than you otherwise might in order to be heard by the other person who’s at least a meter away.

These two were in trouble. An argument had ensued and they were now trying to put some pieces back together. She was a bit teary and he sounded exasperated.

At one point the entire room heard him blurt out, “I’m sorry! I apologise if I’ve hurt you, but …”

I wanted to roll up my newspaper and smack him behind the ear!

And this is why …

Every time I come across a politician, sportsperson, celebrity, etc, attempting to apologise for their behaviour, whether it be the thought-less drivel that comes out of their mouth or their actions, I cringe, waiting for the qualifier.

It’s not only the folk with a public profile who do this, it’s rife within our whole society.

There’s a huge discussion on why we as a culture, have created these qualifiers, that I’m not going to get into here. That’s not what this post is about. I do have my opinions, and if anyone’s interested, mention it in the ‘comments’ section and we can have the discussion there. I welcome all points of view, but lets keep it on topic and above the waistline, eh?


My two favourite qualifiers? ‘If’ and ‘But’.

When you apologise for something you’ve done or said, don’t start like this … “If I’ve done anything to offend and/or hurt you …”

The reality is, that if you feel the need to apologise, then by definition, and rational or not, justified or not, you have already offended and/or hurt the person you’re apologising to!

This is a sneaky back door exit strategy to avoid accepting the consequences of your behaviour.

And then there’s … “I’m sorry, but I didn’t mean… (fill in the excuse of your choice here)

Adding the ‘but I didn’t … (excuse)’ on to your apology is only about making you feel better, it’s got nothing to do with the person you’re apologising to, so don’t dump it on them, and expect them to understand, or make you feel better about your actions. That’s not their job, it’s yours. Explain later, if, when, and where it’s appropriate.


Back to the cafe scene – the young woman stopped crying and (although I had my back to them, I imagined her glaring daggers at him) stormed out. I watched her get into her car (probably hers, seeing as she had the keys) and drive off.

I left soon after and wondered if she ever returned for him or whether he’s still sitting there, trying to figure out what it was he said.


“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight” Phyllis Diller,1917-2012, actress and comedienne

Crow’s Message

I’d taken myself off to an outdoor cafe the other day to indulge in a soy chai latte. Made with soymilk because I can’t do a lot of dairy, and because this cafe makes the best chai latte EVEAH!

The cafe’s location isn’t exactly salubrious, it overlooks the car-park of a small mall. The kind of mall that attaches itself to the vacant lots where two or more major roads intersect, and is in turn surrounded by wall-to-wall suburban homes that all look exactly the same. I try to imagine what it would be like moving into one of those houses. How would you know which one was yours on a dark and stormy night?

Back to my cafe.

The sun shone bright on the tarmac, (one of the few sunny days we’ve had here at Widdderlake – although today is turning out to be another one) as I sipped my delicious chai latte and watched the world, and cars, go by.

At the far corner of the carpark, but still in my field of vision stood a dumpster. Rust stains and faded olive-green paint blotched it’s surface like lichen on steroids. The lid had been propped open (I hoped they closed it at the end of the day, dumpsters being the take-out venue of choice for the local black bear population) and I could see that it was almost full of bulging black plastic garbage bags, random pieces of splintered wooden furniture, wilted hedge prunings and a few smaller domestic white garbage bags sulking next to their boisterous commercial cousins.

A crow flew overhead and made a bee-line (crow-line?) straight for the dumpster. This crow had the look of a town-dweller, scrappy, a couple of tail feathers missing, and a complete disregard for humans and all their creations, except for the contents of it’s favourite eatery, the dumpster.

Crow hopped along the top of the bin, casting one eye upon the delicacies within, then turning its head, and casting the other eye. Something must appealed to it’s taste buds because it flapped and disappeared into the bin.

I waited, curious to see what delicate morsels it would choose.

I waited some more.

A polystyrene burger container erupted from the depths of the dumpster and fell to the ground. Moments later a string of what I hoped were not some form of animal entrails, followed.

Still no sign of Crow.

Several bits of white plastic bags floated up and were caught by a breeze. I was beginning to suspect Crow had set its sights too high and was feeling a little disgruntled at the offerings.

Crow appeared next. It balanced on the edge of the dumpster, empty-handed, (empty-clawed?) rather disgruntled, as I’d suspected, and vented it’s spleen with a racuous,”Cawwwk”.

It flew into a nearby cherry tree and proceeded to shake a storm of cherry-blossom petals onto the cars of the inconsiderate humans below.

I smiled into my chai latte as I paid attention to Crow’s message.

Even if you’re a crow in a dumpster, never settle for less than exactly what you want.


“ Method is more important than strength, when you wish to control your enemies. By dropping golden beads near a snake, a crow once managed to have a passer-by kill the snake for the beads”Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poet 1807-1882