I remember a discussion in a class somewhere, sometime, where we talked about apologizing for things, things that did not require apology, and how this was particularly prevalent among women. If there is one word I say more times during the day at the Kaisha it has got to be "sorry" (sumimasen to be precise, which can be used in a whole variety of exciting ways). The only other thing I say just as much is "thank you". I guess that makes me real fucking polite, a regular Polly Prissy Pants. No, it just speaks to the ridonculously large amount of times these words can be overused at a Japanese company (household, etc). I use the whole sorry-thank you combo so many times I have forgotten whether I am actually sorry, thankful, or neither of the above. It's turned into a catch-all phrase for me. Ask my secretary to do something? Sorry-thank you. Someone holds the door for me (in my dreams)? Sorry-thank you. The cleaning lady moves away from the sink so I can get water? Sorry-thank you. I'm opening the door from one side while someone is doing the same from the other? Sorry-thank you. You get the picture.
What's more, it is said in such rapid-fire succession and with such a sense of embarrassment. What's to be sorry, let alone embarrassed, about when you run into someone in a small hallway closed by doors on each end at your workplace? It's not strange, it's not sexy (oh, fancy meeting you here!), it's just inevitable. And yet I find myself hurrying through doors and thanking-sorrying people all day long with an imploring look in my eyes. I'm a great actress. It's exhausting. I wish we could be my definition of normal and just smile, say hello and move on. There is no reason for my day to be so excessively punctuated by apologies and thanks, where one could normally just smile, say thanks, or throw out a casu-friendly "sorry" when the situation requires it. Or instead of apologizing for something that requires thanks, simply thank the person bestowing the favour. Thanks for reading this. And sorry.