I was sitting on the lobby of the resort waiting for the car to pick me up. The car was supposed to have reported fifteen minutes before. But it didn’t. As I was looking around, I saw this young man in his twenties walking down the staircase sporting his black T shirt and blue jeans. The T shirt carried the words “Excuse Destroyers”. And that made me think on its meaning and the seriousness of its intent.
“Excuse me” I heard the words now. “Sir, my name is Wilson. I am the driver of the cab number xx58. I am supposed to pick you up. Sorry, I am late because of traffic. Please excuse me”.
“Excuse me” I have heard these words many times from the staff who walked into my room, not necessarily for getting in with or without permission, but for seeking an apology for being late.”
“Excuse me” Now it was from two gentlemen who were walking across the lobby and possibly I was standing on the way.
“Excuse me. That is not the way you do. It is unacceptable”. The young woman was shouting angrily at the employee in the reception counter for some reason.
Somehow, I got into the car. “Excuse me, you haven’t closed the door properly” the driver remarked and then he got another excuse for sneezing loudly.
Excuses come for different reasons, from different people and on different occasions, of course for different objectives. Sometimes people seek excuses for some mistakes or errors on their part; and sometimes people seek your excuse for the inconvenience they have caused or might cause. They could also use these words to assert that they are right, and we are wrong.
Historically, excuses have been sought for misconduct, arrogant attitudes, impatience, intolerance, impertinence and for being rude, crude, and the like. Sometimes, excuses are the children of ‘fear’. Robin Sharma puts it nicely “Your excuses are nothing more than the lies your fears have sold you “. It is associated with both positive and negative attitudes depending on situations. Indicators show that even wars have been fought as excuses to some concern or the other. Excuses have also been the reactions to some escapist attitudes.
Says George Washington “It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
When one of your staff justifies his late coming with the excuse of a grandfather or grandmother being seriously ill, your humanistic leadership shows compassion. But the number of times it is sought raises your eyebrows. “The trouble with excuses is that they become inevitably difficult to believe after they’ve been used a couple of times” says Scott Spencer. Oftentimes people who seek such excuses come with a strong belief that the person on the other side is an idiot. But the generosity of those who award and reward such excuses does get firmed up sometime with a yellow slip.
“Excuse me, what is the time?” when the young girl asks you, your romantic self gets upgraded. But when the physician calls you up to say “Excuse me, I have given a wrong prescription to you. There has been a mix-up” your blood pressure shoots beyond the prescribed limits.
One cannot go to the fiancée and say, “Excuse me, your reason for rejecting me is unacceptable”, but the same lady when married tells her beloved “Excuse me, your reason for being like this is not acceptable”, it needs to be acknowledged.
“Excuse me, sir, I forgot wear the helmet” – the policemen are tired of hearing such excuses. They seek no excuse in refraining from giving you a ticket. “Excuse me, sir, I have not been able to track the file. I kept it somewhere” has never brought a smile on the face of the boss.
Excuses for not winning a game, being inattentive while playing cricket, being unfit to participate in the game are hardly pardoned in spite of excuses! The failure of electricity or the non-functional mike have never been excuses by politicians during their speeches!
“Excuse me, darling. I lost the entire salary in the club playing cards” has not been celebrated with a cordial welcome. “Excuse me dad, my friends cheated me of my entire investment in the business” has only made the dad to curse the self for one’s upbringing. There are, thus, several manifestations of the excuses. Somewhere they are flowers, somewhere they are weeds and hardly they have borne fruits. Yet these words have a lot of market in human minds!
“Excuse me teacher, I have not done the homework because we went on a picnic” – the students’ statement has only irritated the teacher. But the teachers’ statement to the headmaster “Excuse me sir, I have not been able to make this boy learn” has fallen only a deaf ear. “You can have results or excuses. Not both” says Arnold Schwarzenegger
Seeking excuses have sometime become a fashion, for some exhibition of their cleverness, for others their misgivings about the persons whom they deal with and to some others an apology for their incompetence. Then what about the lazy people? They are experts in innovating reasons for excuses every time they have a problem. The excuses of lazy people for not doing something is like watching a horrible movie!
“If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse” is a popular statement. Florence Nightingale has stated “I attribute my success to this- I never gave or took any excuse.”
Seeking an excuse when things go beyond control or for an action that was not really intended may really help an individual in a proper perspective. It should fall well within the permissible limits of pollution in our intellectual breath. For those who go on enjoying excuses, feeling high on playing with excuses and seeking achievements through excuses, the proverb “Excuses don’t build monuments, but action does” should remind a better way of living.
Neither do we require “Excuse destroyers” nor do we need “Excuse Approvers”. As Henry Van Beecher says “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself”.