My Public Apology

By Teddy Wayne

I have disappointed those of you gathered today in this conference room—which, because this is a studio apartment, is also my bedroom and kitchen. My roommate gets home in a few, so I’ll make this brief.
 
What I did–not washing out the pasta-sauce jar, removing the label,  and putting the jar in the recycling bin–was wrong, and I am sorry. I thought I was above the law, that the same environmentally conscious rules that applied to all other residents of this city didn’t apply to me.  I can atone for this not through words but through diligent study of the chart posted on my fridge and taking the time to figure out if Chinese food containers should go in the trash or not. 
 
God, it’s so annoying to wash out those jars, though.
 
I also want to apologize for not holding the elevator for my fellow-residents when I hear them checking their mail in the lobby.  If I knew that they’d just get their mail and pace briskly to the elevator, I’d definitely do it, but what if they’re the kind of person who looks over their mail first and perhaps even opens it right there and possibly drops and picks up all the stray magazine-subscription inserts?
 
I’m sorry.  I’ll hold it. I’m no better than anyone else.  It’s just … Maybe let me know if you’re going to take a while?
 
Yesterday, on a crowded subway train, a woman of a certain age was standing right by me, and everyone glared at me for not offering her my seat.  But when I say “of a certain age,” I mean it — I’m not sure how old she was. Sixty?  Seventy?  Where’s the line of when you’re supposed to yield your seat?  Plus, I was reading a bulky hardcover, and she had nothing, so I was really making more use of the seat.  It’s not like she was pregnant.  I would have almost definitely given it up if she were pregnant.  Anyway, I guess I’m sorry, even though she got off at the next stop and I was riding it to the end of the line and didn’t have my iPod.
 
My bad for calling the barista at Starbucks “Kelly,” when her name tag actually said “Killy.”  Not to get nitpicky, but who’s named “Killy,” anyway?  I think I should get some credit even for referring to her by name, injecting some humanity in an otherwise cold, late-capitalist transaction and demonstrating what a sensitive, respectful patron I am.

There go my chances of asking her out, by the way; that should suffice as my punishment.  And I had a perfect joke planned about seeing if she wanted to get coffee sometime.  I was going to say it in a way that suggested I knew it was sort of corny but, hey, it’s part of this crazy dance we call love.  Now, that opportunity is lost forever, and I have only myself — and maybe the name-tag font designer — to blame.
 
A couple other things I’m apologetic about: not replacing the toilet paper roll; failing to reciprocate a “How was your weekend?” from my cubicle-mate; yawning loudly as my friend Tom synopsized his girlfriend issues, even though it’s always the same stuff about the way she orders food in an ethnic restaurant in the accent of the native country, and he’s just venting and doesn’t care about my opinion.

 
My access to money (I make upwards of five figures per year and have both a checking and savings account) and fame (two bodega owners seem to recognize me) made it easy for me to feel like I could engage in this transgressive behavior without consequence.  I understand now that it was immoral, thanks to some lengthy soul-searching, intensive therapy, and even more lengthy and intensive PR-spin coaching.
 
My roommate’s about to come home and I left a bunch of pasta-sauce-covered dishes in the sink, so I ask that you respect our privacy as we work through this matter together, as cosigner and cosigner.
 
No questions.  Sorry for that, too.

Teddy Wayne’s debut novel, “Kapitoil,” will be published by Harper Perennial this April.

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