Please Accept Our Apologies for the Knife in Your Back
Yesterday morning, I saw the following sign at a hotel checkout desk:
We do not accept personal checks as a method of payment at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience.
You know, where I come from you apologize if you’re actually sorry. “I apologize for calling you a moron. I’ll try not to do that in the future.” “Please accept my apologies for staining your shirt.” But this hotel was not sorry; it had established a policy after deliberation, and had no intention of altering the policy to help its guests avoid inconvenience (the “at this time” phrase is a softener). So what is the apology there for? Pre-emptively neutralizing complaints. The sign really says, “We do not accept personal checks. Yeah, yeah, complain, complain, sorry sorry, blah, blah, yadda yadda. Now get out your credit card.”
I didn’t plan on paying by check, so this isn’t a note by a substantively aggrieved party. It’s just interesting to me in a sad kind of way to encounter a sign that uses superficially kind words to move people on like cattle, to prevent any long, drawn out, real apology, and to keep actual pesky remediation from taking place.