“There is a time to be polite. There is also a time where saying sorry is not necessary. I have uttered the word ‘sorry’ when it wasn’t even my fault. Someone spills a drink on me; I’m like – “sorry! I was in your way!” I take the last croissant at a café and the person behind me makes a noise. “Oh sorry, did you want that croissant?”
Image courtesy of Maho Sensory
This post was originally published at Perspective The Blog, here
I’m trying to get off the train, but locating the gaps in a sea of suits is making me sweat. I’m so thirsty, I try and quench the dryness in my mouth with some stale chewing gum I find at the bottom of my backpack. It loses all its flavour after two minutes, like most of the boys I go on first dates with. I just need to get through the perpetual scene of navy, black and grey tailored fabric.
I’m almost there! I’m muttering the same word over and over again. “Sorry… sorry! So sorry, excuse me…. sorry!” I’m wary that I am inconveniencing people. But I have to get off the train! I didn’t do anything wrong, so why the emphasis on ‘sorry’? I should just remain silent while I scramble past people, and at the very end, when I get to the door, I should dramatically hold my hands up in the air and exclaim: “THANK YOU EVERYONE!”
I pledge to only say sorry from now on when I have done something wrong that needs to be rectified.
A woman I presume to be in her fifties cuts in front of me while I am waiting to order my signature chai latte. I’m on my half hour lunch break so am not in any particular rush, but lady, there is a liiiiiine. There’s an awkward moment where the barista stares at me, then shifts his gaze to her, then to me again.
I give her a bit of side eye, because I am dramatic.
“Oh!” I see her register that I, in fact, exist.
“That’s okay,” I breathe out a bit louder than usual, trying to release the slight sense of annoyance I feel. “You go.” I decide, a bit too quickly.
“You were first!” she says.
“No, no, sorry. You go.” I INSIST.
I breathe in, for about six seconds. I breathe out, deeply, wondering whether I just performed an act of kindness, or if I am simply a pushover. I decide on the latter. PATHETIC.
The café is busy, so by the time they make my silky hot beverage, my break is almost over. I make a mental note to be more assertive and badass in the future. This will ensure I will have more time to daydream about a life without constant anxiety and irrational feelings of subordinacy around real adults, particularly adult men in suits.
On the train again.
The sea of suits is BACK, which means my anxiety is rampant. It’s that bustling hour where everyone needs to make it to work by 9:00am. My phone actually ran out of battery ten minutes ago because I forgot to charge it. I keep my earphones in so no one has the AUDACITY to converse with me. I listen to fragments of people’s conversations, pretending I’m listening to some inspirational TED Talk podcast episode, even nodding my head every few minutes in agreement. If I’m going to put on a show, I may as well go all out. I am literally in the most casual outfit I could have curated. I’m wearing loose light blue jeans, tennis-style socks, white sneakers with disgustingly dirty laces, and a loose fitting white t-shirt. I look like a soccer mum who has gone to the effort of trying to look effortless… but my clothes aren’t from Camilla & Marc or Seed.
The woman next to me rises from her seat a little prematurely. We aren’t quite at the station yet. She’s got about three different bags with her so it’s safe to say she’s pretty ballsy. One big bump from this train and she could end up on someone’s lap, with the contents of her handbag sprawled across the grimy floor of the train. I watch her gather her belongings, and with absolute poise, in a direct voice, says to four gentlemen, “Could I get through? This is my stop.”
No please, no thank you, no sorry.
I want this woman to be my best friend.
There is a time to be polite. There is also a time where saying sorry is not necessary. I have uttered the word ‘sorry’ when it wasn’t even my fault. Someone spills a drink on me; I’m like – “sorry! I was in your way!” I take the last croissant at a café and the person behind me makes a noise. “Oh sorry, did you want that croissant?” BAD LUCK BARRY I DEFINITELY NEED THIS SUGAR HIT MORE THAN YOU, AND MAYBE IF YOU DIDN’T SPEND THE LAST TEN SECONDS BEFORE I GOT HERE TEXTING SOMEONE ‘AS PER MY LAST EMAIL’ THEN YOU WOULD HAVE BAGGED THE LAST ONE. SORRY I’M NOT SORRY.
I take a bite of the croissant right in front of him, out of spite. I feel sick with power, in the best way possible.
Back to the train.
I’m in love with this woman but trying not to show it. She has given me LIIIIFE – she has instilled me with an intrinsic sense of courage that will remain with me. I no longer fear the men in suits. Now I see the powerhouse women amongst them – the perfectly manicured, bright red nails that scream, “Yep, I’m a CEO, and I’m also a boss bitch with STYLE.” The one’s bravely taking business calls in public. TALK LOUDER, I want to scream. Show the whole train what a powerhouse you are. I want women to be as loud and as confident as a white, middle-aged man at the footy, with tomato sauce dripping from the corners of his mouth, but still shouting anyway. Own it.
It’s my stop, and it’s my time to shine. I am scrambling between armpits and trying not to knock people’s boobs. I can’t help that I’m less than 5 feet tall! It’s generally pretty chill but sometimes it can be pretty awkward, especially during group hugs when I’m trapped in people’s chests and am like I NEED AIR.
Right before I reach the doors, I very lightly knock a man’s elbow. I see a look of annoyance appear on his red, languid face.
I’m about to apologise, but in light of my new pledge to myself to banish the word sorry unless I ABSOLUTELY MEAN IT, I stop myself.
I present him with a most genuine smile, flashing almost all of my teeth, which I absolutely never do.
“Nice suit,” I say, enouncing the ‘t’ with perfect precision. I see the disgruntled look on his worn face disappear, a weak grin forming between his lips.