In time, Luke, you will learn that the truths we cling to depend upon a certain point of view.
— Obi-Wan Kenobi
Way back when I was in the eighth grade, we were playing this game in school one day. A select few were chosen to be “murderers.” Then, all the lights would be turned out in the gym, and we’d all wander around. The murderers would kill someone by placing their hand upon a person’s shoulder. The person would then scream, and collapse on the ground. The lights come on, and then, based upon who was standing around “the body,” three people each got a guess as to who the murderer was. When uncovered, the murderer was out for the rest of the game. I was selected as a murderer. As I wandered through the gym, scanning for my first victim, I saw that one of my compatriots beat me to first blood. And I was precariously close to the body. The lights came on, and the guessing began. On the second guess, someone picked me. I blurted out “Yes, I’m a murderer, but I didn’t kill this man.” Exposed, I went to the corner where the “out” people go. My teacher soon came up to me and said “If you have a flaw, Mark, it’s that you’re too honest.” Since that time, I have prided myself on my honesty. And it disturbs me at how easily I can now lie.
An incident happened a few days ago. I was scheduled to work the evening shift, and didn’t have to go to work until 4pm. Around noon, I get a phone call. It’s my supervisor, and a real bitch if I may say so. (A brief moment to explain my situation. When the Boss has a day off, one of three supervisors take charge. As I said, this was the bitchy one.) She said that things had gotten unexpectedly busy today, and could I come into work sooner. I asked “How soon is sooner?” She said “now.” I replied that I could not go charging off to work now, because my mother was in the office and she took my car. Thus, I was without transportation. My supervisor grumbled something, and then hung up. Now what I said was true, to an extent. My mother did indeed have to go to her office that day, and she took my car. Well, it’s actually the family car, and since that’s her name on the registration, she can use it whenever she wants. So, I didn’t have a car.
But I did have a truck. Mom left me the family truck, and said that if I have to go anywhere, I should feel free to use it. Contrary to what I said, I did have transportation. So, was I justified in lying like I did?
As I already stated, I was scheduled to come into work that day at 4. Was it really so wrong to want a few more hours of me time? Besides, I had a similar incident with this supervisor a few days before. As soon as I entered the door to the store, she screamed out “MARK!! Don’t bother hanging up your coat! Get to work NOW!” So, I got to work NOW. The store was really jumping. For 5 minutes. After those 5 minutes, things were dead and I went to hang up my coat. So, since this was the same supervisor who just called, I convinced myself that the store had entered a 15-minute busy patch, and she was just panicking again. I had nothing to worry about, and I went back to lying on the couch, watching TV.
As the afternoon progressed, I continued deluding myself even more. I had in fact told the truth! I really was without a car. How could I get to work without a car? So, what I said was true, from a certain point of view. Yup, no car. Can’t go to work, got no car. But there was that little part of me deep down inside going “But you have the truck. So what if you want to have a life? You want to have money, don’t you? Student loans are coming. You want to pay them off, don’t you? And the only way to do that is to be married to your job. You should have gone to work. You’re letting the bitch down.” It was a little voice, but long-winded. Naturally, I was being thrown into my latest moral quandary.
John Lennon once said that life is what happened while you were making other plans. I don’t want to make other plans! I don’t want to say “Oh, that’s work calling. I’ve got to run off to the office. But I’ll be at your next ball game, Mark jr.” I don’t want to be one of these people married to his job. I want to have a life! I want to be free to experience things! I want to have a little fun before I die! And if that means withholding certain facts from work, then that should be perfectly OK. In our consumer based society, I’m making a stand! This is a political act! This is my way of throwing off the shackles of consumerism! I’m not my bank account! I’m not my fucking khakis! I’m not my job! I’m the slob on the couch watching TV! I’m a hero! I’m a role model! I should lie to my supervisor more often!
But there’s that voice again. “You used to be such on honest fellow, what happened to you? There was a time when you wouldn’t have thought twice about charging down to work. And what about that sense of loyalty you claim to have. You’re letting your co-workers down. Even if they are bitches. Perhaps they will not be so bitchy if you lead by example. Be kind to them. Demonstrate your loyalty by going to work early when they ask you. Even when it is your day off. The right thing to do is to toil in the fields. Like your sister pointed out one time, you’ll have lots of time to have a life. That’s what days off are for. Work is the only thing to do.”
And it kind of continued like that until Mom got home and it was time for me to go to work. I got to work, and it was rather busy. One of the bitchy cashiers was sure to say to me “Oh, so you finally decided to come to work.” God forbid that a cashier has to bag a few groceries. We can’t all be grannies killing time until CPP kicks in. But the problem remained. Turned out things were busy, and they really did need me. So, the moral quandary kicked in once again.
Was I justified in lying? Was it wrong of me to want a few extra hours of free time? What really did happen to that honest fellow I was in junior high? Did he just grow up? Or is it like what the ancient Greek mathematicians stated: “the ideal must be corrupted to fit the real world?” Perhaps honesty isn’t the best policy anymore, replaced with deal making and profiteering. Oh, if things could only be as clear-cut as they were in junior high. Things seemed so straightforward back then. But now, if I have to lie a little to keep a from going to work early, I’ll do it. Cuz hey, we don’t always want to be making other plans.