What's your opinion of a person who says something along the lines of this: "I'm sorry I was rude to you, but I'm under a lot of stress today?"
I ask because yesterday I was browsing in a certain discount store and overheard a woman (the manager, I presume) loudly berating a young female employee; it sounded like everything this girl did was wrong. Then I heard the woman "apologize" by saying something like, "I know you're trying to help, I'm just very stressed out today." As far as I remember, she didn't actually say, "I'm sorry." I then heard her become annoyed a few more times while obviously trying to be nicer to the girl.
Now, I don't know this woman, or what had happened to "stress her out" so. Certainly it wasn't the atmosphere of the store itself that was stressful: I was the only shopper there at the time, and all was quiet with no loud, annoying music playing. My real question is, do you think it's polite to say what this woman did? Or are non-apology apologies a pet peeve of yours? I personally can't stand "I'm sorry, but..."
To my mind, this isn't so much offering up an excuse as trying to explain your behavior. But why do people feel they have to explain? In my opnion, a simple "I'm sorry" -- nothing more, nothing less -- is the only polite thing to say.
It seems that all of us will become annoyed but that the polite person doesn't allow annoyance to affect how she/ he behaves toward others. And if one does speak harshly one apologizes, with no excuses or attempts to justify oneself.