I recently went shopping with a girl who I met about two weeks ago. I will call her my friend to communicate the issue easily. We were exploring one of the stores, and we came across what appeared to be a decorative water spout. My friend asked the store employee what it was while simultaneously pushing the spout. A lot of water came out creating a mess. The employee was visibly upset. She had just said "please don't do that" while my friend was touching the spout. My friend apologized a few times and I did as well. The employee was visibly upset and did not say anything in response. My friend also seemed to annoy the employee by inquiring about the purpose of the spout again after the incident.

We left the store quickly after that. Should we have offered to stay and clean? The employee looked as though she would not have appreciated our continued presence. Did I not apologize properly? I said "I am so sorry" twice.

  • 1
    Are you male or female? I think it will give a clue to the appropriate response if the employee thought you are her boyfriend.
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 1:29
  • 6
    You both apologized. That's all you can do. If the employee doesn't accept your apologies, you can't help that. Oh and did she tell you the purpose of the spout in the end? Because if you still don't know it, then all of that was for nothing :D
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 8:06
  • We are both female. And no we still don't know what it was for haha
    – balooga
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 19:10
  • 1
    Could you add a country tag to this question, and edit this question and add some information about the cultural context? The answer to this question will depend on your cultural context.
    – user288
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 3:51
  • I wouldn't feel bad, you certainly did nothing wrong and your friend wasn't malicious. The store really should have expected it to happen at some point.
    – Jim W
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:32

2 Answers 2


You did the right thing -- apologize several times and leave. I hope you gave the impression that you were aghast and mortified. Your friend seems clueless, asking again about the purpose of the spout -- I am sure the employee wanted you both out of there.

However, it was not entirely your friend's fault. The store should have known what would happen when the spout was pushed and should have known that someone, eventually, would push it.

You would only have been in the way if you tried to help clean up the mess.


Apologies work, even if you were not the one who caused the issue.

But what made the apologies in this case somewhat disingenuous is that the employee said "Please don't do that", and then it was done (coupled with the insistence of being self centered even after the employee realized she had a significant clean up task ahead of her).

As stated already, the right thing at this point is to be as apologetic as possible and quietly leave without further interaction.

But in a more general sense, from my experience, this gesture works. I was with a large group when someone ahead of me bumped into a Forrest Ranger. I did not see what happened but the exchange became quite heated. By the time I came up to them, the Ranger was yelling, and everyone else was quiet. After a few seconds of listening to this, I simply said "One behalf of the group, I apologize for one of us bumping into you". He immediately changed his tone; he said something like "Alright then!". And it all blew over apparently just as fast as it had escalated.

Sometimes just saying sorry is enough.

  • Sometimes just saying sorry is enough. This. Sometimes someone just want to see if the other party is really sorry or not.
    – Vylix
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 1:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.