Today I found myself waiting for almost two hours for someone. Granted, she was at dinner with friends, but I really needed to get something from her before I went home. I tried calling her cell phone, but it would just ring and then go to voice mail. I was a little frustrated. I knew it wasn't her fault: I couldn't even let her know that I needed something, and I know she wasn't the one driving.
She finally called me from a friend's phone to tell me that they were just wrapping up dinner and would be back in a little while. She sounded happy and that just made me more angry. I knew I shouldn't be angry because she deserved some fun with her friends, but it seemed like she didn't understand how long I had been waiting or what I was feeling at the time.
When I finally saw her, the first words she said to me were "sorry, I know it took a really long time, but I couldn't really do anything. I'm sorry". Almost instantly my frustration dissapated. That one word, really, was all I needed. To me, sorry meant so much more to me, the same way "oops" sometimes conveys something a lot more serious than the word sounds. To me, sorry meant "I know you've been waiting a long time and I wish I could have gotten here soon and thank you for being patient and not getting really angry". And it made me feel a lot better.
The words "I'm sorry" are powerful. I'm not suggesting you start apologizing to everyone all the time, but these two words are not heard often enough because people are often unwilling to say it. Japan's WWII war crimes to China. George Bush to the country. An angry parent to a child. When the time calls for it, say you're sorry. It means so much.