So when I moved to Sweden, of course Excuse me was one of the first terms I wanted to learn in Swedish. It turns out the phrase is 'Ursäkta mig' (pronounced Urshekta may). The first chance I got was at the grocery store - I wanted to grab a carton of milk, and needed to lean close to an older woman. 'Urshekta may' I said, as I reached about 6 inches to her right. She turned around and glared at me, grabbed a milk in a flash, and was out of there.
And this scene has repeated itself probably a hundred times since. You'd think I would learn, but it turns out 'excuse me' is a tough habit to break. It is so ingrained in me, that I often mumble it before I even know what I am saying. I have only really gotten one true reaction other than the one above.
I was standing in the grocery store with my SUV stroller (more on these later) and suddenly found myself in a traffic jam. One woman was walking down the aisle behind me, another was going to be trying to walk in front of my stroller any second. The stroller was huge & had no place to go. I tried to duck and cover. The woman behind me approached first and slipped past the stroller. The woman in front got this crazy idea to plow through the display case to my left, walking behind the giant cardboard cutout of a pizza and some precariously stacked boxes of tomato sauce.
'Urshekta May, Urshekta' I aplologized as I tried to maneuver my stroller out of there.
She stopped dead in her tracks, looked at me, and responded 'Goodness, urshekta may! I don't know why I am in such a rush. What am I doing?' She smiled and continued on her way. (and yes, that interaction happened years later when my Swedish had improved from a bit more than an urshekta may)
Rule #1 There is no excuse me, just plow on through.