Alan Dee: I must apologise if you don’t find this apology sufficient...
Bang. Ouch. Bang. Ouch. Bang. Ouch. The therapeutic benefits of banging your head against a brick wall are not supported by medical professionals, I’ll admit, but sometimes it seems the only appropriate course of action. If nothing else, it usually feels better when you stop.
It’s not a brick wall that I’ve been banging my head against, however, but a plate glass window. Or more accurately, a plate glass door.
It was a broken door, as it happens, and in case you think my head-banging antics were to blame I must stress that it was broken when I got there.
The door in question was one of a pair at the entrance to my local supermarket, and even though I probably pass through them two or three times a week I can’t say I have ever paid them much attention.
When the sun shines, they are locked open and you don’t even know they are there.
When it’s a little chillier, there’s a cunning mechanism that opens them up as you approach, just so you can get inside and start spending all the quicker.
But the other day something had obviously gone wrong with the innards, and the one on the right hand side was stuck in the open position.
You’d have been hard pressed to realise that there was any kind of problem but for the sign affixed to the dodgy door.
‘Out of order’ said the first line, which was fair enough – not really necessary, as it wasn’t stopping anyone getting in or getting out, but I’m all for sharing information.
It was the next line that got under my skin, though. ‘We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.’
That’s polite, isn’t it? That’s a corporate organisation showing that it cares, no?
Not a bit of it – there’s nothing quite as irritating as a needless apology, a kneejerk ‘say sorry just in case’ reaction that seems to assume that just because something has gone wrong somebody must be to blame, and ready to own up about it.
There was no inconvenience worth taking about – if we’d all been asked to go round to the back of the store and get in through the delivery doors, that might have merited an apology.
But if the sign hadn’t been there, the vast majority of people wouldn’t have known or cared.
However, the real victim here is the regular, but pedantic, customer.
Now that I have raised the possibility that a small minority of shoppers find this sort of meaningless gesture irksome, I expect to see an extra line on the sign the next time a door plays up: ‘We also apologise for any annoyance caused by this apology, particularly if you have not been put to any inconvenience in the first place.”
And if it is not there, in big bold letters, I will expect a full and frank apology in short order, you mark my words.