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JONESIE: The trouble with apologies

April 25, 2014 - 7:20 AM

So yes, I was grumpy. Fine, I admit it.

I’d already spent 15 hours of a badly-needed weekend behind the wheel. So there’s that. And my trip was to Calgary and back so needn't say more, right? But so what, big deal.

“This isn’t a 'purple truck,'” my wife said. “And it’s not a truck, either.”

“It’s red,” my son said. “And I don’t know what it is, but it’s definitely not a truck.”

Traitors. How dare they disrupt a good rant with ‘reason’ and ‘facts.’ But I guess they saw something I didn't in my exchange with the clerk-in-training at a gas station in Revelstoke.

I’m pay-at-the-pump all the way, baby. Get in, get out. But this pump had that helpful sign: ‘REMOVE CARD QUICKLY.’ How precise. I did as it suggested, but no help. I tried again. And again and again. I made an awkward attempt to speak over intercom, then briefly considered taking out my frustration at the inanimate objects until I pictured the surveillance video going viral on YouTube and I just know I would later have to publish it myself as news. 

Instead I went inside to get the machine reset. This has happened before.

“Which pump are you on?” she asked.

How should I know? “That one. Purple truck,” I said. “Over there."

“I can’t see it from here,” she said.

“Sure you can. You just have to look. It’s right there. Right. There. Look where I am pointing: No... there.”

In my defence no other vehicle in sight was close to either red or purple. Hmph.

So yeah, I had a little rant. No big deal. Minor frustration. 

Filling the truck, I heard one of my two boys say: "What’s the matter with dad? Why was he so mad at that girl?"

Mad? Me? Surely not. I can’t stand people who treat service workers poorly, wear anger on their sleeves and make others miserable. I’m the guy who tries to make the clerks smile. This week, I made the paint guy laugh when I asked if I could return one-fifth of a quart for refund when what I really needed was another can.

But I guess I was grumpy enough I didn’t even realize my kids and my wife watched the whole exchange and, yes, I treated the clerk badly. Not badly enough to end up on YouTube, but I probably ruined someone’s day. And my kids witnessed the whole thing.

Question is what to do about it. If I’ve learned anything about being a dad, it’s that everything has unintended consequences. I went back in to get my change and apologized for being a jerk and left $5 so she could, I don’t know, buy herself something nice. She smiled and I presume she was satisfied, her day somewhat salvaged.

I got back in the redish-purple SUV-type-truck and my wife smiled and suggested I tell my YouTubers what they missed.

“No way,” I said. “I ain’t telling them nothing.”

Because while I am the male role model, this is touchy business. They already know how I typically treat people; that’s why this minor excursion with the rookie clerk stood out so much. I just don't do that.

They also know I apologize when I am wrong. Personally, I think it’s an admirable trait but apparently I do it too often—so much that at least half of my spawn now sees it as weakness and he’s not wrong. Perhaps it carries the stench of a lesson, maybe looks false. My humility is at risk of being a rejected personality trait.

I think it’s time I stop over-thinking things, stop being a role model and just do what’s right. I apologized because I was wrong, not because I needed to teach anyone a lesson.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of Infotel News.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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