DEAR MISS MANNERS: Does etiquette have any guidance for the chronic mistake-maker?
I am 40 years old, and I have spent most of my life losing items seconds after they leave my hands, making wrong turns, forgetting names, and being lost for words when polite replies are most needed. These things inconvenience others and cause me embarrassment.
I nearly always apologize when others are affected, but when taking an extra 20 minutes to leave the house because I am still searching for my keys and wallet becomes a daily occurrence, is there a position I can hold in regard to the most frequently affected parties other than that of a constantly apologizing person?
GENTLE READER: Apologizing is etiquette’s way of making mistakes right, but there is no provision for a bulk discount.
This is not an oversight. There is no good way to announce your intent to inconvenience your friends and relatives on a daily basis without implying that you have given up trying not to do so.
Miss Manners appreciates that you have not made a quasi-medical excuse for what you admit to be mistakes, but you do seem resigned. If you cannot correct the behavior, then an apology is a minor additional commitment of time. The recipient will appreciate the gesture -- and also understand if the apology is not extensive.