The World According to Rachel: On Please, Thank You and I’m Sorry

Rachel Ruecker, Editor-at-Large

It only took me three weeks to get my act together enough to start writing this column again. But I’m back and (probably not) better than ever. Nevertheless, I’ve got lots of opinions on things, so here goes.

As a Canadian, the words “please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry” are very familiar parts of my vocabulary.

As a Canadian who worked in customer service for an airline all summer, they are even more familiar.

As a woman, I’ve heard the argument that women apologize too much — women are too “polite.”

And on the one hand, yeah, I totally agree that we shouldn’t apologize for who we are and shouldn’t say thank you more than necessary — thank people for “putting up with us” because we are “a lot” or “extra.” We should be unapologetically who we are — that, I am for wholeheartedly.

However, I also think that if you can say one or two words to possibly make someone’s day, why the hell shouldn’t you?

As I mentioned above, I worked for an airline all summer. And if you’ve read the news at all in the last year, you can imagine that I found myself apologizing to people a lot. Delayed flights, cancelled flights, seat changes, you name it. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do,” became my summer refrain. Verbal abuse became my summer normal. But hey, as a drama major, it was a damn fine character study, let me tell you THAT.

I’ve been in New York for about a month now, and during my first week back, I was leaving a Liquiteria and accidentally bumped into a girl with my backpack. I turned immediately and said “Oh I’m so sorry!” on impulse, because that’s what I did. All. Damn. Summer. But this girl just gave me a dirty look and walked away. I nudged her with my backpack, folks. I didn’t maim her. But I’m glad I said I’m sorry, cause didn’t someone say — kill them with kindness? I even made it my strategy at one point this summer to make people happy that their flight was delayed. It usually went something like this:

Me, Queen of Customer Service: Have you been informed of the delay?

Customer: Oh no, by how much?

Me, QoCS: Oh, just 35 minutes, so nothing major — you’ll be there in no time!

Customer: Oh, that’s not so bad, well, uh, thank you.

QoCS: You’re very welcome! Enjoy your flight.

It’s called reverse psychology.

At the end of the day, this world is a colossal mess right now. (Again, are you people reading the news?!) So if a little “please,” a little thank you and a little “I’m sorry” can make someone smile or brighten their day, I’m more than happy to oblige, all the while NEVER apologizing for who I am.

Email Rachel Ruecker at [email protected].