“I’m sorry. How can I help you?”

The first time I heard it, I thought I must’ve been mistaken. The second time I heard it, though, I realized that’s indeed what she had said. The girl at the drive-thru window of my local McDonald’s had started apologizing before taking orders.

Now, I realize we could easily make a joke about how yes, fast food workers should apologize for the sub-par junk food they sell. And this particular McDonald’s actually owes me several legit sorries — for slow service, missing fries, wrong food altogether, and that one time my four-year-old wanted a smoothie and its smoothie machine was broken and then I had a crying kid and no smoothie for our entire drive to the babysitter.

But it struck me as so strange that this young woman was saying she was sorry before we’d had a single interaction. And this happened on more than one visit (yes, you caught me, I frequent McDonald’s on a scarily regular basis). So, it wasn’t a huge leap for me to assume this was a new habit, that she had become so accustomed to needing to apologize that she decided to just lead with that — as if she owed me an apology simply for existing, simply for doing her job, simply for . . . serving me? What?

For the rest of this post about unnecessary apologies, join me at (in)courage. (And for more about why I’m not apologizing for my McDonald’s habit, read this post.)

Photo by Joiarib Morales Uc on Unsplash

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