Now, I am not exactly the demographic the late Randy Pausch's Last Lecture was geared toward. That's enough about that because there is no need to speak snark of the dearly departed. But I must give him this: he got the word out about the Art of the Apology. You can dress it up, but it rises and falls on these three components:
- What I did was wrong.
- I'm sorry I hurt you.
- How do I make this right?
Though I should stress at great length, it's never about the expense; it is always about the integrity of the gesture -- it is not possible to buy one's way out of the doghouse. My last ex pissed me off over a vacation a few years ago, and brought me home a Mac airbook ... which I rejected -- because he was being extravagant, but not thoughtful (and being thoughtLESS was what landed him in the doghouse in the first place). I really, really wanted that airbook too, but how was he supposed to learn?
This past summer, a guy bailed on me for a big evening out... where I was one of the guests of honor. And what I got was an email explaining why he couldn't make it (a really, really flimsy email). Clearly, there was no d'anjou pear, no matter how succulent, that could atone for a transgression so monumental. I didn't answer the email, and as far as I was concerned, that was that. And by that, I mean, if I never saw him again as long as I lived, that was fine by me. A few more half-hearted desultory emails and texts followed, which I answered with five words, "you are dead to me."
Awkwardly enough, I ran into him a little while later -- in a very public place, which is why I felt like it was socially acceptable to just keep walking. Again, as I've said before, I don't confront people to their face. I was raised right.
But no, he ran me down, and what followed was an "explanation" (which sounded a lot more like a harangue) about how he had a perfectly good reason for not being at my gig; that if it came up again, he would do the exact same thing; and how he couldn't really believe I would just never speak to him again because of it. (Really? Have we met. Cause anyone who knows me would tell you that is exactly the kind of thing I would do, and that it is not even a little bit out of character.)
So instead of: I was wrong; I'm sorry; how can I make it up to you? -- what I got was: I was right; I'm not sorry; and you're being rude for not accepting my non-apology apology.
And at that point, he'd have had to buy me a smallish third-world country, and my own enlightened-despot to run it. (Again, it's not about the extravagance -- I just like to boss people around.)