Saturday, November 21, 2009

perils of honest speech

As discussed previously, I have learned through sad experience to be strictly honest. This, coupled with the extensive time I spend doing nit-picky editing, has made me very particular about being accurate and precise in my speech. And this, in turn, has made me a boring conversationalist.

I know people don't generally care whether verbal speech is completely accurate and cited correctly. Indeed, I know that this is generally quite annoying. And yet, I feel a compulsion to make sure that I'm reporting things accurately and citing my sources, adding a disclaimer if I can't do so. "This reminds me of a humorous anecdote my boss was telling me the other day. Now, I don't remember all of this story completely, so I may not be getting all of the details right in places. I'll alert you to these areas as we go along. I should also point out that I cannot vouch for the complete accuracy of this story, as my boss does like to embellish things a bit. At any rate, proceeding with my story, . . . ."

This is all quite unfortunate, because there are many stories that are a lot better when you take certain liberties with the truth and fill in the blanks in memory or understanding. For instance, I could report that the Muslim taxi driver who picked me up at the Denver airport was disappointed when he learned that I was originally from California and not Utah because he would have asked me out if I was interested in bigamy.

But, I don't know if this is true. He definitely said something that he found very amusing about "Cali ladies" and "Utah ladies" and bigamy, but I couldn't actually hear everything he was saying. Unfortunately, this makes for a much less interesting story. And that's the problem with being honest. It makes you boring.*

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog post are not necessarily an accurate reflection of my thoughts and beliefs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

honestly speaking

Honesty is the best policy. I believe this in a moral sense, but I've also discovered it to be true in practice -- even when I think I have a good reason for some slight dishonesty, it seems like something happens to nudge me back onto the straight and narrow.

For example, on one occasion, I decide to ride the Metro without a valid ticket, rationalizing that this is better than being stranded in East St. Louis at night without a phone, money, credit cards, or pepper spray. And that happens to be the one time in a thousand when they actually come through the train to check for tickets.

Frequently (although much less frequently nowadays), I decide that it will be less effort to let people continue in some misconception (i.e., that my name is Christy, that I'm the person they meant to call and not a wrong number, that I don't mind eating peppers, etc.) rather than correcting them. I inevitably turn out to be wrong.

On a trip to Denver, I see that the only open window seat is in the exit row, so I change my reservation to that seat. When the flight attendant asks if I can handle opening a 40-pound exit door and assisting other passengers, I say "yes." I mean, I probably could. Maybe. But it's not like it matters anyway. How likely is it that something bad will actually happen on a short flight to Denver?

Ten minutes later, when the alarm starts blaring, smoke starts pouring out of the back of the cabin, and the flight attendant runs down the aisle, I begin seriously reconsidering that decision.

I've heard of people getting caught in their lies before, but I'm the only one I know of who almost got caught in a lie about being capable of opening an exit door. And that's why, for me, honesty is the best policy. Someone seems to be sending me a message, and I think I'd better listen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

"You can't have your spine and brain back."

I rather doubt that phrase has been spoken in a federal appellate court before. (It made sense in context, but still.)