Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nuance

I, like most of us, was brought up to be truthful. In fact, it was a bit of a thing in my family - no shades of grey or excuses, you just don't lie to people. No claiming to be younger to get the kid's price, no pocketing the extra if you're given the wrong change, no staying home "sick" if you're not.


And I really took it to heart. I eventually grew out of the wide-eyed absolutism of childhood, but the overall message stayed with me and while I'm not shocked-shocked-I-say at the white (and other colored) lies a lot of people are comfortable using, it's not for me. I'm not above smiling through food I don't like, but that's generally the extent of it.

Except, today I had to choose between either relaxing that standard or putting a friend's job on the line and causing trouble for the rest of the company, and of course I chose the former.

The disconcerting thing is, I think I was quite good at it. I wasn't happy about it, but the false claim I needed to make occurred to me on the spot, and I said it, and was outwardly relaxed and chatty and helped embellish it very slightly and provide the needed detail, and then sign the forms that were produced to that effect.

I'm not at all certain that the person I was dealing with in fact believed what I was telling him, but my claim was one of the few acceptable answers to the questions he was sent to ask, this is a very non-confrontational culture and it doesn't matter to him personally, so as long as we produce (in this case literally) some documentation to back it up, that should be that.

2010 is off to quite the auspicious start, innit?

2 comments:

Dad said...

Jennifer -

(I hadn't looked at "Misphit" for months, but happened to do so today.)

Yeah, life is full of ambiguities, isn't it?

Years ago someone published book entitled "Situation Ethics," which dealt with the fact that determining the greater good in specific situations can be sticky. One example was: Should a POW's wife sleep with the commandant of the prison camp as a prerequisite for obtaining permission to bring food to (and to visit) her husband?

From the back-story you laid out here, and from observing you over the years, I'm pretty comfortable with the way we raised you, AND with the values you demonstrate as you handle the ambiguities you encounter.

I'm glad I'm your dad.

Dad

Christina said...

Jen,

I understand the "truth" thing very, very well. I've been called brutal in my honesty and I'm as brutal with my own honesty with myself as I am with everyone else. And you know what? It's not made me very popular and I'm starting to rethink it.

I'm sure you made the best decision possible under the circumstances and I hope that the person for whom you did it knows that you did it once but not twice.