When You Accidentally Offend Someone

by Tejas Nair

Other than sometimes letting it eat you for the rest of the day, what do you do when you accidentally offend someone? If it’s a friend or someone you know well, then you can talk it out freely, but what if it’s a stranger?

Last day I was asked by a friend to be an extra in a photoshoot for her upcoming wedding. The scenes were to take place in the campus of our alma mater, Agnel Polytechnic. Two charming and nostalgic locations were selected by the ace photographer who came in all the way from Malad to shoot the lovely couple and her “friends.” The first scene was completed in minutes, but it was the scene which followed when and where our incident in question took place.

The photographer had brought his assistant along with him to help with the tripod adjustment and replacement of lens between shots. A humble guy, was the assistant who looked way out of place to be a photographer’s helper. Honestly, the guy didn’t look like he was cut out for it; going by his appearance, I would guess heavy industrial engineering or construction. But here we are at the shoot. The second scene primarily involved the groom-to-be texting his fiancée, insinuating that that is how it all started for the couple – he saw her, fell in love, and messaged her to show his love – and since he had forgotten his smartphone in his car outside the campus, a sudden need for an appropriate phone that would look sleek on film sprung up. Obviously, all of us extras extended out our mobile phones so that when the final film would play during the wedding day, we could comment about the phone’s original ownership to our neighbour and take pride. Unfortunately, my phone was not selected. And by that time, even the assistant had extended out his phone.

It was an odd one out in a group of phones that all boasted of being oversmart. A Nokia piece, I am guessing, because even before I could ascertain what the brand of the phone was, I blurted out, “If he uses THAT phone, the bride is definitely gonna say NO.” A few of us chuckled, and then it dawned on me. The guy must have felt bad for one, being the only person with a phone that is not a smartphone, and two, for having ridiculed in front of everyone including his boss for owning such a phone. I realized it then, and so began my thoughts on how I could fix it.

Naturally, I couldn’t think of anything. I thought of immediately saying sorry in front of everyone, but then that would have confused some as to why I was apologizing, and then they would overthink it and finally get why, further causing embarrassment to the guy. So saying sorry was out of the question. Next I thought of going to him and personally apologizing for being blatant, but then that would confuse him, too, had he had not got the quip earlier and would now begin to feel offended. And what would others think, if they saw, what was I talking so closely about to this guy whom I was meeting for the first time? And by the time I reasoned all this, the photoshoot was over. Some other guy’s phone was used for the scene.

Conclusively, that guy must have considered me the most bumptious person he had met that day. I couldn’t salvage the situation being an ordinary man who affronts people inadvertently and then feels acutely bad about it. So that is the question: What do you do when you accidentally offend someone?

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