Benjamin Golden, the ex Taco Bell marketing manager, was all over the news as the Uber passenger caught on camera attacking his driver.
He was drunk and claims to have no memory of the incident.
Now he has offered an apology.
Now comes the classic evasion of responsibility: the old “it was the booze that did it.”
“It’s not me in the video, it’s not me,” Golden said.
Except It Is Him.
On the most superficial level, this is an attempt to blame the offense on the alcohol. The booze . . . it was the booze talking, as if the responsibility lies with the substance. On a deeper level, this attempt to evade responsibility represents nothing less than an attempt to split the offender into two parts. First there is a blameworthy part that gets to absorb all of the responsibility.
Then there’s a blameless part that disassociates itself from the derelict behavior. It is with this blameless part that the apologizer identifies. The goal in this fractured agency apology is to suggest that the apologizer, speaking on behalf of the “good” self, did not actually commit the harm. The new honorable self has left the old rebellious self behind to take the blame.
“It was hard to watch and I am so ashamed,” Golden continues.
To his credit, Golden, who was quickly fired from his marketing position by Taco Bell, also said, “I’m going to make it right, and I think that’s the only thing I can do.”
Okay. Not an easy thing to do. So how does Golden make it right?
First, he has to apologize to the Uber driver he assaulted. The driver is understandably angry and suspicious, so the apology needs to be accompanied by meaningful restitution. I’m not sure an offer of just money will do it.
He has to actually say the words “I apologize. I accept complete responsibility and I’m so sorry for hurting you.”
Second he needs to apologize to Uber, which has permanently banned him from the platform.
Third he has to accept the legal consequences that he has invited. He is being sued by the driver and faces assault charges from the police.
And fourth, he has to stop denying he has a drinking problem.
Finally, even a great apology will not get him his job back.
That’s the thing about apology. It will help all the parties move forward . . . but not necessarily together. And in this case, definitely not in an Uber car.
An effective apology will start a process to help Benjamin Golden get himself back. And that may be the only thing he has left.