Social Question

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

How would this interaction make you feel (see details)?

Asked by JeSuisRickSpringfield (620 points ) May 23rd, 2012

I accidentally cut in front of someone while leaving the grocery store today. The street was lined with trucks, so I couldn’t see very well. By the time I pulled out far enough to see, I basically just had to go to keep from getting in the way of oncoming traffic. The other driver didn’t have to slow down at all, and I didn’t have to speed out of the exit, but she was still annoyed. Predictably, I got the finger and a horn honk.

The lane splits into two lanes shortly after the place where I pulled out, and we ended up next to one another. We both had our windows down, so I took the opportunity to apologize. I told her that I hadn’t been able to see and had made a bad decision. She pointed out that someone had been waiting to pull in to the grocery store and that this should have tipped me off that someone was coming. I told her she was right and apologized again.

“Well, okay… no problem,” she said, but she still sounded annoyed. Do you think it actually helped at all to apologize, or did I accidentally prevent her from venting her anger by making it harder to be mad at me? Would you feel like something had gone right if someone apologized to you for making a mistake on the road, or would it just annoy you more?

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17 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Maybe not then, but later. I still think it was good to apologize.

tom_g's avatar

I would love an apology. I hand out apologies quite often when I am on the road.

I have also been the recipient of a traffic-related apology, and it really made a huge difference. It helped remind me that not everyone who cuts me off is out to kill me. People make mistakes and it’s likely that they are beating themselves up over making a stupid move. There’s no need for me to invent a story about the driver intentionally trying to ruin my life. An apology can be a great reminder that my fellow drivers are human beings. It’s also great modeling.

Trillian's avatar

Sounds like she wasn’t expecting an apology and therefor had no prepared words for that. You may have left a couple cogs spinning without a way to reattach! I apologize when I do something inadvertent. It seems to catch people off guard, and de-escalates otherwise angry people. Courtesy doesn’t cost anything.
I don’t look for it though, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when I’m on the receiving end.

CWOTUS's avatar

I would have been thrilled and totally mollified to have an apology.

If I had been in your shoes (and I would have made the apology, too, by the way), then I’d have thanked the other driver for teaching me to notice something that hadn’t been obvious to me before.

After all, you did learn something here, right?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The apology was admirable. It shouldn’t be, but the fact that it has become more uncommon, at least in the US, that it is refreshing when it happens sincerely. It can catch people off-guard.

While she may have not reacted in an accepting manner, I wouldn’t be surprised if she mentally replays the incident later. It may even lead to her ‘paying it forward’ at some point in her life. Well done.

bkcunningham's avatar

As I read through your story, I kept waiting on you to cop-out and not own up to the fact that you’d made a mistake. It seems so typical sometimes. Just as a third party reading your explanation, I was relieved and pleased that you apologized to the stranger. You did the right thing and it sounds like she was happy to get a chance to vent to you. Good job.

wildpotato's avatar

I once pulled up next to a guy that cut me off. I was about to let him have it but I noticed he was elderly, so instead I said “Hi, I’m not sure if you noticed but you really scared me back there.” He said he hadn’t seen me in time and apologized. It totally caught me off guard and disarmed my anger, and actually kind of made my day. I think you did good, and I wish more drivers were so conscientious.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it helped. She was still miffed but a bit mollified. Perhaps you lowered both of your blood pressures a little bit. Good going!

Sunny2's avatar

“did I accidentally prevent her from venting her anger” You’re not responsible for allowing an opportunity for her to vent. Accidentally or not, you diverted what could have been a nasty confrontation which could have left both of you feeling bad for the rest of the day. Way to go!

jca's avatar

I think an apology is never a bad thing, even if the person doesn’t take it. It sounds like it worked out well in this case.

Kardamom's avatar

I think you did the right thing. If someone gestures “I’m sorry” and gives me the “I’m a dope” face and a little wave, it goes a long way. Some people do stupid things because they couldn’t see or just weren’t thinking (not on purpose) so it’s nice to get an acknowledgement of simple wrong-doing. If more people did that, I think there would be less road rage.

There needs to be some type of a universal hand sign that means “I’m sorry, my bad.”

Trillian's avatar

^^ Agreed! I nominate this!
...what? It’s already taken? Damn!

deni's avatar

I’d probably be more annoyed. It happened, it’s over, no need to beat a dead horse.

janbb's avatar

Think it was a great thing to do.

linguaphile's avatar

I think it was the right thing to do… unfortunately, it would’ve gotten you on the wrong side of the anti-nice crusade discussed on a different thread.

I’d have done the same, and would’ve felt upset that the apology didn’t go across well, but I’d still feel better that I apologized.

Drivers often forget that the world doesn’t necessarily get out of their way—we ALL will make mistakes.

ucme's avatar

You seem to have admitted & accepted responsibility by means of a sincere apology, never a bad thing.
This course of action avoided further hostlities which could have only escalated what after all, was a minor incident caused by simple human error.
Road rage? Together we can make it stop…..now fuckoff!! ;¬}

Leanne1986's avatar

I think it was awesome of you to apologise. People that can admit when they are wrong get a big tick in my book as we are usually to proud to do so. She was probably quite shocked to get a genuine apology so I would imagine her sounding pissed off even after you threw your hands up and admitted your mistake was more down to her being thrown of guard and nothing more. I would really appreciate someone making a genuine apology too me in a similar situation.

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