Today on the subway coming home from work I accidently smacked a woman on the head. I was raising my arm to grab the safety pole to hang on to, and I kind of back-handed this poor little asian lady. I apologized but she didn't say anything. Then she sat down, seemingly unfazed, and lost control of her shopping bag as the train rounded a turn. She was not having a good day.
Moments later, this dude sitting behind me (I was standing in the aisle, holding on and trying not to assault anyone) says, "excuse me." I replied, "Oh, I'm sorry," immediately regretful for some transgression I hadn't realized I had committed. "No, excuse me," the man replied. At this point I was confused, wondering what exactly I had done and if this was how fights got started. I looked down and felt reaffirmed that, unlike the asian woman, I had not attacked him in the last five minutes. "I stepped on your heel," he said. "I owe you an apology."
"Oh, don't worry about it," I said, eager to end the conversation. At this point the dude started speaking a little louder, kind of addressing me and kind of addressing the comely young woman standing near me. "I stepped on your shoe, stomped my foot down, so I owe you an apology. You have a nice smile."