I often say this at the library when somehow we fall short for our patrons. As in, the book they want is checked out, the book they want we don't own, we can't find the book they want that should be checked in, the computer isn't doing what they want it to and I can't make it better, etc.
A lot of people don't apologize for these menial kinds of inconveniences, because it's usually not really our fault. And I totally understand. But I choose to apologize, just because I think it shows a bit of sympathy and understanding for their frustration. Some people also say you shouldn't ever apologize for anything that isn't your fault because it shows weakness - but I think... I'm a librarian. What do I need to show strength for? I'm here to help them, not draw them into little power plays.
So I've been feeling very pleased with myself for this little show of sympathy, but I've been wondering lately: what if these apologies are really for me? Because, usually, when I do apologize, the people give me the frown/smile and say, "It's okay." Maybe I'm just in it for their small reassurances that these inconveniences aren't ruining their day, maybe they give me a sense that I'm not totally inadequate, that they understand that it wasn't my fault. Maybe this is all a play of my defensive system and sense of insecurity.
And then I think about what my five-year-old nephew said recently,
"I think women should just relax."