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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Three of the most useful words of the past two decades

After two ragged days, in which I got things wrong, pissed people off, and got pissed off by other people I'm finding myself pining for a better day.

I miss the good old days when an innocent mistake could be solved with a simple, "Oops, my bad!"

Seriously, I remember when you could scuff someone's shoe. And even though that person would get angry, if you could muster a quick, sincere "oops, my bad" it defused the situation.

I remember when someone could cut you off in traffic. And even though you wanted to tear 'em a new one, if they made the universal gesture of peace and humility - the smiling half shrug/half wave - you felt a (sometimes grudging) flood of calm. You still frowned, but you let it slide and lost your bluster.

I remember when you could: forget to hold the door open for someone behind you, over dry and shrink your girfriend's favorite blouse, accidentally tape over your boyfriend's favorite boxing match, bump someone with your grocery cart, make a well-intended but false accusation, or spill coffee on a co-worker, and you could just say "oops, my bad!" And all you had to do was really mean it. And that was enough. It may not have fixed your mistake, but it soothed the person you wounded.

How many times might some international incident, the result of some cultural or political misunderstanding, have been solved if one or both parties had practiced the spirit of "oops, my bad?"

Righteous indignation, sudden defensiveness? They're diseases. They thrive in an atmosphere where those three words are never uttered.

Sorry, this post is longer than I intended...oops, my bad!

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  • No problem.

    By Blogger Lex, at 12:45 AM  

  • I really hope you have a better day tomorrow.

    By Blogger katrice, at 12:56 AM  

  • remember the days of double dutch and Thrifty Ice Cream? loss of trust makes us all grumpy pumpkins. ;p

    innocent happiness.

    hey lets go play some UNO!!! lol

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 1:03 AM  

  • kindness begets kindness so we all got to keep on spreading it around no matter how crazy and mean the rabid dog we call the world has turned. I liked your post!

    By Blogger Robin, at 1:55 AM  

  • James, you door-hold forgetting, blouse shrink-drying, favorite match over-taping, cart bumping, well-intended but false accusation making, coffee spilling fool! People feel a lot more entitled now, and are more likely to have their own three words for YOU. I won't post the 3 words, let's just say they start the same as "Where's The Fire."

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 6:59 AM  

  • ditto what robin reading you!

    be well, james

    By Blogger savannah, at 10:06 AM  

  • I agree with Robin too. Besides it's pisses people off more when you are sugar sweet nice.

    By Blogger Winter, at 10:14 AM  

  • Lack of accountability and responsibility.
    Now if someone bumps into you with a shopping cart - there is no apology because obviously if you hadn't have been in their way it wouldn't have happened so it is your fault.

    We all tend to point our finger at someone else, forgetting there are four fingers pointing back at us.

    Hey... have a good day.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 10:42 AM  

  • Dug this post, in large part because I know precisely how you feel.

    But, yes, nothing irritates people more than an onslaught of kindness. And, who knows, if we all kept it up long enough, the "suck" factor of life might go down a notch or two.

    I don't know about you, but I could use a little of that.

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 12:06 PM  

  • Do not scuff my shoes. Seriously.

    By Blogger mist1, at 12:11 PM  

  • I have no problem admitting when I was wrong, it's just makes me mad when someone talks down to me or if they don't except my "my bad" :)

    By Blogger Erica AP, at 12:56 PM  

  • I agree with Robin too.

    Some days just suck, no matter how hard you try. Sorry you had two in a row.

    By Blogger fiwa, at 1:08 PM  

  • You better have a diamond tennis bracelet in your hand if your other hand holds my favorite sweater - I told you to stay away from the laundry! My bad is not gonna get it pal! Damn it!!!!!!!! bad.....I had a flash back. : )

    By Blogger Angie, at 1:26 PM  

  • Amen! I think that the attitude of humility that produced "Oops, my bad" is slowly disappearing and being replaced by an overly delicate self-righteous indignation. Maybe because we are becoming a nation of drama queens, or maybe because we're losing our collective sense of humor. Whatever it is, I miss it.

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 1:47 PM  

  • well, along with this, are the people that do whatever they want (repeat offenders, not the occasional honest mistake) and then figure that they can get away with it by just saying oops, my bad. It's a fine line

    By Blogger Claudia, at 2:51 PM  

  • Lex, thank you.

    Katrice, yesterday wasn't so bad. Just got that way at the end of the day. But thanks. Today's better so far.

    Yas, I miss my deck of Uno cards.

    Robin, I'm tryin'. But I struggle to spread kindness sometimes to folks who don't appreciate it. I'll try harder. Thanks for the exhortation.

    Ha! Very funny Sarc. I wasn't describing least not with all that stuff - maybe just the sweater shrinking. And that only happened once, back in the day. Oh, and I've definitely spilled the coffee before too.

    Savannah, you are too kind.

    Winter, I know you're both right. So much for the biblical principal of "a soft answer turns away wrath."

    Pamela, I always like your logic. We should co-host a radio talk show. I'll bet we'd have a hit.

    ThirdWorst, that's what I'm gonna toast to when I get home tonight: the lowering of the suck factor.

    Mist1, that sounds like a dare. Don't put those shoes in front of me. I might get tempted.

    Erica, that's the rub. No one wants to give a "my bad" if the other person doesn't accept it. I admit that's one of my petty weaknesses that sometimes by the time the "my bad" arrives I am so salty for having been "offended" that I say I accept it but my body language says I'm doing so grudgingly.

    Fiwa, thanks. It only gets better.

    Ha ha ha ha ha! Angie, you got issues. But I'm gonna buy a tennis bracelet and keep it on standby in case I ever make the sweater mistake again. I'm not trying to sleep on the couch or the porch or in the backyard, or wherever.

    Queen, I think it's both. We're losing our humor and we're a bunch of drama queens. Everybody's so thin-skinned these days. On the other hand that logic gives a little bit of a copout to the insensitive types out there.

    Claudia, very good point. It is a very fine line. I have a buddy like that who is a repeat offender. And he always says "my bad" pretty quickly. But he's said it so often now that I think it's lost all meaning to him. And he's always satisfied that as long as he says it, he's off the hook. And he's sort of right, 'cause none of our other friends (including me) ever takes the conversation further by accepting the apology but still taking him to task for his behavior.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 3:15 PM  

  • We all just need to learn to chill.

    By Blogger C, at 12:02 AM  

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