Please Forgive Me

Following on from my last blog, I’ve been binned. Thrown out. Discarded. Surplus to requirements. Possibly!

I wrote about a visit to the outpatients department of my local hospital for a booked appointment. The doctor marked me as missing even though I’d checked in and been seen by a nurse, and I was left in the waiting room till knocking off time. I ended up sitting on my own, over an hour later, with everyone else gone home.

After that? Well things got worse.

I made another appointment, and the day before going I received a letter, copied to my GP, saying that as I’d missed two appointments I was no longer going to be treated. I had wasted NHS time and they no longer wanted to see me at the hospital.

As I hadn’t even missed even one appointment, never mind two, I rang to check my new appointment was still in their books, then went to this replacement consultation quite psyched up. As I sat in the waiting room, I practised my self important pitch. “You’ve made me an exile with my doctor’s surgery, it’s not my fault, your colleague last time made a mistake, I’m being penalised, I didn’t waste your time, you wasted mine.....”

My name came up on the TV screen and I went in, still rehearsing my complaint. “Hopeless, your letter was libellous, I’m offended,” etc, and by the time I reached the door I had blown it up in my mind to the status of court proceedings, an apology on the teatime news, and several thousand pound compensation in bitcoin paid in to a Caribbean account.

But guess what happened?

As I entered the doctor welcomed me with a smile, shook my hand, and said “What a cock up, eh?” I was totally disarmed. He went on, “I can’t believe we made such a stupid mistake. I bollocked the doctor you were going to see, and he had no idea why he did it. I’m so sorry.”

And that was it. All grudges gone, all sense of being wrongly called out dismissed, temper dissipated, no need for the story I’d practised. An apology dissolved the stubborn, caked on stains of offence and self importance. He said he’d write to the GP explaining their cock up, that I shouldn’t worry, and then I thanked him.

When I’m driving, if someone cuts me up, jumps in front, or makes a mistake it’s impossible to be angry if they realise their mistake and wave an apology. At home if anyone does something that hurts someone else, we apologise and all is forgiven. So why are the three words I Am Sorry so difficult to say?

I tend to apologise even when it’s not my fault (or at least I don’t THINK it’s my fault) as it makes for peace quicker. And we’ve all become so much more sensitive, needing apologies for everything from the weather to how fast the world’s turning. Social media has led to people taking offence too easily as they don’t know when something is a joke, or just nicely taking the mickey. So I am going to apologise even more. I am going to apologise at least once a day, every day, and see how I get on. I’ll keep you posted.

Meantime, don’t get drawn in to prolonged apologies like the Ottowa Citizen newspaper. They published an apology to Mark Steyn on October 22nd, accidentally showing readers the incorrect information again. They then published another apology, apologising for the apology.

It was an apology of an apology, I guess.