It used to be that “excuse me” was a phrase that always engendered appreciation from me when someone offered it. When dealing with the general public, particularly during busy times in crowded areas, the art of “excuse me” as a courtesy seems to be on the down swing.
Today I waded through an impatient and noxious crowd in a packed supermarket where most people seemed to wield the phrase as a stealth “F-U” rather than its appropriate usage. The most egregious incident was when an oblivious woman, who was guilty of texting while shopping, plowed into my ankle with her shopping cart.
After hitting me she looked up from her inaccurately named smart phone and shot off an “excuse ME”, with an emphasis totally appropriate for her entitled attitude, and a glare normally reserved for a Red Sox fan sitting in 3rd base line field boxes at Yankee Stadium. How dare my ankle interrupt her texting and shopping experience! Who did my joint think it was?
It was a sadly absurd moment.
I looked at her, shook my head, and limped on.
I know that we live in a world where language and its usage is lazy and imprecise. But there should be some words, some phrases that we should not bastardize in the name of terseness, convenience, or ignorance melted with arrogance*; “Excuse me” is one of them. When you misuse that phrase and turn it into an “F-U” there really is no excuse: you are an asshole.
* As I call it, the Palin combo.