I’m not Sorry

There is a Tim Horton’s down the street from where I work and even though it is inconveniently placed at the very top of a hill there often come moments in the work day where the pain of an uphill trek is preferable to sitting one more minute in my cubicle staring at whatever new problem has been thrown at me. I love my job, but there are times when that love is hidden deep beneath “the sleepys”, mixed with “I wish I was doing this other important thing for work which is the actual reason I love it here”, mixed with “I’m going to scream if I stare at this computer screen any more.” I experienced this very feeling yesterday, and since I conveniently had forgotten to take my lunch break, I spent all of ten seconds justifying leaving work. After taking orders from the people in my office, I walked up the hill expecting to breath in the fresh air and was cruelly met with the smell of tar having just been put down on the newly paved road. (Note: in all honestly I don’t think it is tar that roads are paved with, however since I do not know the actual material used, I chose tar because it seems to depict the wretchedness of the smell appropriately in my mind!) I finally made it to Tim Horton’s and smiled believing the universe was paying me back for having to endure the terrible smell by only one woman ahead of me. There was a teenage girl working the counter who was so soft spoken that customers had to lean in to hear her. Behind this sweet girl was a tall man with a nametag pinned to his shirt that boldly stated “MANAGER.” This man looked like he always was on a caffeine high. He put too much emphasis on his words, and was clearly distressing this poor girl who was doing her best. He was rushing her to the point of discomfort and needless to say this introduction of frenzy to the situation was completely unnecessary. The girl put down the coffee for the woman ahead of me, and shifted over to assist me (as the manager continued to run back and forth between the drive through window and the counter breathing down multiple necks and making sure that he instilled panic to each and every one of his employees). As I moved to pay for the coffees that I had ordered, the girl and her annoyance of a manager, realized that the woman before me had never paid for her drink. The girl was incredibly distraught. She looked at this manager of hers as though she was bracing herself for a physical blow and began to apologize repeatedly.
The manager began to berate her with his musings on how important it was to take your time, and that this was unacceptable behavior on her part etc. etc. etc. I was taken aback by this discussion. This manager was failing at the most essential role his job requires, which is to support and teach his employees. He was clearly mixing his signals and was confusing the staff. However, this post is not about the incredibly annoying and frustrating manager man whom I would have loved to have had an in depth discussion with the goal of discovering when in his life he realized he was going to focus on being a drain on the happiness of everyone around him. No, that is not the point of this post, instead the point is this; the girl was apologizing. She did nothing wrong, but she felt the need to apologize. It was the woman’s fault for not paying, and the manager for being un-managerial. Yet this young girl was unable to politely say that she felt rushed. I understand her plight because I doubt I would ever talk back to my boss, but noticing this exchange also made me aware of a change in myself. I used to be that girl who would apologize for everything. I used to think that saying I’m sorry was better than having to put up with dealing the situation at all. Nowadays, I still apologize when it is appropriate, but I try hard to not use those specific words when I feel as though I was not the cause of the issue. Instead I go directly to solving the problem. This is exactly what I did in this situation. I leaned in and loudly told the manager that it wasn’t a big deal and that they could just put the coffee on my bill. The manager seemed taken aback and the girl relieved. The coffee was only a dollar so I was not saving the world, but I do hope that the girl learns to stand up for herself soon. I also learned that I’m not that girl anymore, which was a very nice feeling indeed.

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