The Key to an Effective Apology

Yesterday was a bu hao (bad) day. Slogging my way through insurance claims, poking in boxes, staring at 7 pages of emails to either file, delete, or respond. Monday malaise set in and lodged in that perhaps hormonal part of my brain that does not want to do a thing. The painter was back, moving at a “glacial pace”, to quote Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Evidently, the painting would not be finished by the afternoon.

In the morning I rode my bike to the gym. It is balmy again. When I came back, I stowed my bike in the garage. Later in the day, I told Voldemort, He Who Is Still With Us But Soon to be Fired, to take some boxes with spare computer parts to the garage. Half an hour later I happened to go outside where I noticed he had put the boxes in the garbage. The guards were already pawing through it. Very bu hao. I then looked at my bike, as I was directing him to move the items inside. The lock was missing from the basket. My daughters had each, in the past, claimed that their bike locks had been stolen from the garage but I thought they had just lost them. So, hopped up on frustration, I went and called the management and browbeat a woman I’ll call Few Bricks Shy of a Load (not to be confused with my husband’s secretary who we call Dumb as a Box of Rocks).

An hour or so passed. I went back to the computer. I watched the enlightening video La Lopez sent me on saying sorry*, a short video sent out for the Jewish High Holidays. Forever getting the names of the Jewish High Holidays mixed up, I do know the day of atonement, whatever it’s called, is in October. (Philly Mare, if she cares to, can clarify for us). I then went to the kitchen to prepare cole slaw for dinner, just before taking Thing 3 to swimming. The ginger dressing was taking longer than expected so I told my little dumpling to ride ahead and I would meet her at the pool. As I was going to get a bowl out, I noticed my bike lock sitting on the kitchen counter. Holy Yom Kippur!

Chastised, at 5 p.m. I rode my bike to the club house to apologize to Few Bricks Shy of a Load; my tail between my legs, it was hard to find a good position on the seat. Leaving the maid in the house with the painter who was still there, I told Ayi I would be back at 6, to wait for the painters to finish.

“No worries!” Few Bricks replied to my apology. (Everyone says “no worries” here, a phrase the rest of the world has co-opted from the Brits as a way of smoothing over difficult situations or minor traumas; it is annoying). I then went to the pool. The SIM chip in my phone had become dislodged and I could not text my son to tell him I’d put the key underneath his bike seat (remember, we are down a lock or two). I would just call him from the home phone, I thought. Are you still with me?

Leaving the pool, Thing 3 told me her bike helmet had been stolen while we were at swim lessons. Drained and defeated, I did not have the energy to go back in and ask Few Bricks to give me back my apology. When I got back to the house, at 6:07 with Thing 3, there was a truck parked out front with last week’s armoire movers inside. Why, I had no idea. The house was dark. The house was locked. The dog was barking inside. The maid has a key and since the painter miraculously finished, she had done the right thing and locked the door. It is at this point that readers need to refer to my previous post, U & Me, about assuming things. I had assumed she would wait for me. Very very bu hao.

So, I went next door to Waltzing Matilda’s and borrowed her phone. I did not know how to reach Mr. Understanding since I had input all his data into my now defunct cell phone and had not memorized the string of 10 numbers. I called Few Bricks, a number everyone in this neighborhood has memorized. She was on her way home and could barely hear me over the roar of the Metro. I asked her to send over a locksmith, a person who opens doors. She had never heard of such a person. “How can they get in the house if they don’t have a key?” For the second time in one day, I lost my patience with Few Bricks. How did she think criminals got into houses? Turning my attention to the mystery men in the truck, I ascertained they were there to fix the armoire they had previously dinged. I sent them home. It was now 6:30. Twenty minutes later two workers with a tall bamboo ladder had crawled into my house through an unlocked door off the master bedroom balcony.

This morning I recounted in pantomime the story for the maid and asked her, in the future, to check if I had my key with me before she locked the house. She laughed and said “Sorry! Sorry!”. “No worries,” I replied. Holy, holy Yom Kippur. I’ve got less than a month to prepare.




Filed under Misunderstandings, Religion

10 responses to “The Key to an Effective Apology

  1. SmartAlecAngela

    Oh my, what a day!! At least tommorow can only get better! Do you need me to mail you a new bike helmet for Thing 3?
    Big Hugs!

  2. La Lopez

    You know, that “glacial pace” quote is one of my favorites as well, being that we live in Latam with its occasional “mañana” time zone. At Chez López or on Chilean roads, it is often followed by Meryl’s original from DWP, “that really pleases me” slithered out like a whisky sliding down the rocks. So, the full package comes out like this:

    Problem is that its supreme biting wit and princessly-ness are usually lost on the locals, who just think I’m a nut case. But, not wanting to find out just how loca I really am, they do pick up the pace, scampering away tout suite. And as an added bonus you’ll find that just hyper-pronouncing the vowels works kind of like one of those mantras they teach you in the spas these days, dissipating the rage and all that, and for a fraction of the price. Mr. U will thank you for the savings.

    Re: those fun names you’ve baptized the local help with, have you considered “Dumb As A Fence Post”? That’s a Nebraska favorite. Or how about, “Dumb As A Shoe?” which is in the Chilean Top 10.

  3. gamamãe

    BU HAO indeed. Wear something red to ward off the ” mau olhar ” or in this case – might it be the mao olhar?? Sending you good Juju plus some moxie mojo…

  4. La Lopez: my other favorite from TDWP is the dismissive “That’s all.” I am working on the rest of the handles – believe me when I say I will use every variation, yours included.

    Gamamae: and to think I wore those special panties while jumping the waves on New Year’s!!!

  5. KT

    Hi, I meant to write when you were talking about your driver, but I got distracted, but since you mentioned Voldemart today, I thought that I would respond. First of all, whenever I am feeling sorry for myself here in Hooterville, I read your blog, and I am thankful that the ordinary things of life are easy in this place. One of the great things about being an ex-pat are the shared experiences.
    We were very lucky when we were in China to have a driver who was on the company payroll (same in Brazil). They always knew that they answered to a higher power than me. The company had several drivers in China. The number one driver was for the men only, and this was a position of prestige. Because my husband was the highest ranking American there, the number two driver was to be my driver. The only problem with this was that the other ex-pat (a Venezuelan wife…this is pre-Brazil, and therefore I was unfamiliar with the Latin Diva) insisted that her dog must be driven around the neighborhood by this driver because they had “chemistry”. The amount of “face” that this man lost must have been unbearable. I ended up with the third driver which was a woman (very rare in China then….she was impressed that I also knew how to drive, and more impressed that my Mother actually knew how to drive a car). Neither of us ever spoke much of each other’s language, but we became very good friends, and still keep in touch. My wish for you is that you find that wonderful person that will take you to all of those places that you want to go (besides Randy).

  6. Karen S

    Hey MK,
    Love your blog! I finally got an email I could read. Sounds like things are peachy. I remember well your entrance to Brazil. Just keep your limbs in tact and you’ll be fine. I’m going to take some time and read your archives. I had no idea you’d been blogging so long. It’s great to hear about your family and new home. Say hi to all the Things for us! xo KSas

  7. KT: Great story! Did you have a policy on fingernail length or was that not a problem b/c your driver was female? Come back to China, KT!

    Sassy Karen: Yes, this entry is still not as tough as Brazil. As of this posting, all body parts are attached. No explanation of the email situation other than to say I am not in control!

  8. MCV

    Fellow Blog Admirers, the pervs are EVERYWHERE unfortunately. I was once chased down on 680 in the SF East Bay Area. I thought it was road rage, until I saw an enormous unit in the passing car. I pulled out my cell phone (at that time about the size of small novel) and he fled down the freeway. Another time, I was followed while taking a solo walk past a castle in Sicily. I was more freaked out that time as I was on foot and the perv was in a car. Oh and I almost forgot–there was the time I was running in Sicily and some men stopped their car just to watch me. I’m not sure if it was exercise in general, or the fact that it was a woman, that was so foreign to them.

  9. KT

    Hey expatprincess,

    I meant to answer you earlier on the fingernail length of male Chinese workers. We had several that had very, very long nails…especially the pinky finger. We asked about this, and were told that long fingernails on a man were a signal to everyone that they were not a manual laborer. It is a status symbol of sorts. Hope the b-day greetings made it there.

  10. KT: YES! Last week! It is going to be the subject of a separate post. It was the icing on my birthday experience! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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