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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen

Obsequious, Ingratiating, Obeisant, Infuriating

This is driving me crazy, so I had to write about it. I have a new co-worker who is driving me up a wall. He prefaces every sentence with an apology and ends every sentence with about three thank yous.

He comes over to my desk to ask a question and stands about five or six feet from my cube, looking at me.

"Hey, what's up?" I ask.

"I'm sorry, Daniel, is it okay if I ask you a question?"

"Sure, it's fine."

"Oh, okay. I'm sorry. This will just take a second."

"It's okay. What's the question?"

Notice I had to ask him to ask his question three times. He asks his question. I give it some thought. I begin to respond just as he starts to say something, so I stop talking.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he says. Grrrrr. I finish what I was saying.

"Okay." He stands there for a minute in thought. I wait a second, then turn my attention back to my monitor because he interrupted my Amazon shopping.

"Well..." he starts, so I turn my attention back to him. And once I do... "I'm sorry. It's just that I was thinking that if we..." Some more of his concern or problem or whatever.

"Well, the reason we don't do that is..." Blah, blah, blah.

"Oh, okay. Thank you, Daniel."

"No problem."

"Okay. Sorry to bother you. Thank you. Thanks." Scurries away, head down.

Now, I'm not certain why that drives me crazy, but it sure does. And on top of it, I remember trying to explain to a friend why I found him annoying and couldn't come up with a good word to explain the behavior. That's even more annoying. There must be a good word to describe someone who acts like that.

At first, I chose obsequious, but that's not quite right, because it carries a sense of servility, and he's not servile, exactly. He's just so lacking in self-confidence that he needs to constantly apologize for himself. Then I thought of ingratiating, which is pretty good, but (to me) this word describes someone who is trying to get on your good side, which I don't think is going on here. Obeisant means deferential, so that's close, but it's not really deference. That's the thing. There's a hundred ways of saying "whiny" or "fawning" but they're not right. He's just.... infuriatingly apologetic.

So I'm still searching for the right word. I've consulted, but it's hard to zero in on a particular shade of meaning. Anyone have any suggestions?

Comments on Obsequious, Ingratiating, Obeisant, Infuriating
  Comment from Anonymous Anonymous at Monday, May 13, 2013 10:23:00 PM
You reаlly make it ѕeem sо easy wіth your ρresentation but Ι fіnd this topic to be rеallу something thаt I
thіnk I wοuld never undeгstanԁ.

It seems too cоmplex аnd eхtrеmely broad for
me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.