Apologetic People


Shortly after arrival in the United States there were several things that immediately caught my attention. One such is the up-front friendliness of people.

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It is undeniably very pleasant. However, some waiters or cashiers come out sounding like programmed robots. On one occasion when Toby took us out to dinner at a high-status location, the serving girl terrified me by way of which she spoke. I leaned over to David and whispered ‘She’s like a machine…’

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At the shops the sales(wo)men seemed to have come straight off the conveyor belt just like the products they sold. It’s creepy how mechanized they interact with customers, like

‘Hi I’m the annoying tape-recorded message on your telephone but with a body attached.’

Then there’s the overly sweet ‘That looks FABULOUS on you! I knooooow…. Thank you sooo much! Have GREAT day!’ (broad wide smile)

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But friendliness turns into something rather weird when the frequency with which people apologize becomes ridiculous!

Sorry! Oops we missed walking into each other by three feet. Sorry!

I feel like asking what the hell for? It’s such a stark contrast with the individualism and aggressiveness so much seen in the USA that I could only ratify it with fear. They say sorry when they don’t have to because they are scared! People become over-the-top apologetic to avoid conflict.

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And then -just as I thought I’d figured it all out- I overheard a man in the parking lot: ‘There is nothing wrong with me for hating people.’

He wasn’t joking.

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Categories: Being Dutch in the USA, North AmericaTags: , , , ,

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