By virtue of some unlikely circumstance, I recently spent a curiously prolonged period of time with someone who, among many other things, can be most accurately described as 'American'. As an Englishman, this inevitably led to an avalanche of culture clashes, casual imperialism, and pointing out that, at least from an administrative level, the US is still technically a British colony, and it might be an idea for them to remember that once in a while.
But more than anything else it led to apologising. Constantly.
At this point you're probably thinking: 'Good! Bloody Americans, it's about time they started acknowledging a few things.' You would of course be completely wrong.
You see, as any good English person will tell you, it's entirely reasonable to compose a sentence that's comprised of 70% apologetic terms. 80% if you're being polite. Which you should be. Always. For an American this is frankly incomprehensible. After all, how on earth can I spend that much of my life being that upset about things that in their (savage?) mind I shouldn't even have acknowledged?
I have apologised for being in a slightly inconvenient position (for them), doing something entirely legitimate, but thus putting them through the trauma of having to work around me.
For not predicting their precise need to intake fluids, thus forcing them to actually have to ask for them in the first place.
For having the audacity to attempt to engage them in casual conversation.
For trying to be helpful (I apologised for this a lot).
And for them bumping into me. As frankly I probably shouldn't have been there in the first place.
This was met with a constant procession of confused expressions, and an awful lot of "wait, did you just apologise for that?" Which made me feel awkward. So naturally I apologised for that too.
The only thing I'm worried about is that I might have left something out. Or not apologised enough. Two thoughts that frankly keep me awake at night wondering how best to apologise for that.
One thing I'm not apologising for though is my manners. Which are clearly impeccable. I'm sorry, but I'm just not prepared to call that into question.