Home > Language, Travel, Writing > Odd Apology

Odd Apology

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Two and a half weeks ago, when we flew on Alaska Airlines from here to Washington, D.C., I came across a sentence on our airplane breakfast menu that struck me as peculiar, so much so that I talked Gail’s ear off about it for 5 minutes and then made a note of it. I stumbled upon the note last night. Rather than let the sentence go to waste, I’ll share it with y’all.

Mind you, this isn’t really a big deal. Probably not worthy of a post. The sentence is grammatically correct. Its only problem is that it doesn’t really say what the writer, or the airline, intended for it to say. Not that there’s any difficulty unwinding their point.

I know. I need to present the sentence already. One more bit of background. There were two breakfast options, some all-in-one egg-meat-bread concoction and a more traditional omelette with sausage. The sentence followed the listing. Here it is:

We apologize if occasionally your choice is not available.

This doesn’t bug me so much now. It did then. The thing is, are they apologizing to all of us for the fact that sometimes some few of us won’t get what we want? That’s what they’re saying. Presumably, their intent is to apologize to the occasional poor schnook who doesn’t get his or her choice. I don’t see any elegant way to fix this in one sentence. Maybe you do. I would use two, stating the sad truth in the first one that sometimes the mix of breakfasts loaded on the plane does not match up well with the mix of passenger preferences and in the second one that if that happens on this flight and you’re one of the unfortunate few who doesn’t get what you want, we apologize.

It turns out that I was the designated schnook on this flight. When the flight attendant got to Gail and me, we were the last two. She offered Gail both options. Gail took the all-in-one. She then told me she highly recommended the omelette. I graciously accepted.

Categories: Language, Travel, Writing
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