Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
HONESTY IS BEST – EVEN WITH TELEMARKETERS
“Hello? Yes, this is him. Uh huh… What is this, a cruel joke?! You know perfectly well I just lost my eyesight in an industrial accident! You have some nerve, lady!!”
As I slammed down the phone receiver and rejoined my family at the dinner table, my wife said, “What was that all about?”
“Oh, just a telemarketer,” I replied.
“I figured that out,” she said. “I mean that other stuff about your eyesight and an industrial accident. What were you talking about?”
“She’s selling magazine subscriptions. I want her to feel bad about trying to sell them to a guy who just became blind.”
“Why do you want to make her feel bad?” my wife asked.
“I’m just trying to help her. If I can make her so discouraged she quits and gets a real job, I’ll be doing her a favor, and more importantly, I’ll be doing the world a big favor.”
“But it’s lying!” my wife exclaimed. “You know what the Bible says about lying.”
“Of course I do, honey. It’s right in the Ten Commandments: ‘Thou shalt not B.S. thy neighbor, even if he’s an ass.’”
“No! It says, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’”
“Yeah, that’s what I meant. But don’t forget the other part where it says, ‘Thou mayest bear false witness freely against telemarketers.’”
“It does not say that! They didn’t even have telephones back when the Bible was written.”
“O ye of little faith,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s a prophecy, of course. God knew that one day a plague of telemarketers would sweep across the face of the earth, devouring everything in its path. He knew the only way to deal with them would be to lie. It’s for their own good.”
At that point my wife buried her face in her hands and moaned, signaling that the conversation was officially over.
My daughter, who had been listening attentively, asked, “Hey Dad, is that why you told someone on the phone the other day that you have inoperable cancer?”
“That’s right, dear,” I said. “He was selling life insurance. They’re not allowed to sell it to people who really need it.”
My wife suddenly slammed her fist on the table and glared at me, signally that the conversation was officially re-opened. “You creep!” she shouted. “You told someone you have cancer?!!”
“Well, I was just trying to help him.”
“Gee, Dad, I’m sorry,” my daughter interrupted. “I sort of told everyone at school you were dying. Oh, and I also told Grandma.”
“Uh oh,” I said. “No wonder my mom was weeping when I talked to her yesterday. I thought she was just going through one of those, you know, female emotional hormonal things.”
My wife got up from the table and stomped out of the room. As she left, steam shot out of her ears, signaling that the conversation was once again officially over. My keen male intuition told me I probably should not ask for a back rub later that evening.
My daughter looked at me and said, “So, Dad, what’s the story? Is it OK to lie to telemarketers or not?”
“I’m not so sure anymore,” I replied. “I always thought it was the best thing to do—best for us so they’d leave us alone, and best for them so they’d leave their life of debauchery and get honest jobs.”
Just then the phone rang. I heard my wife answer it in the kitchen. A moment later she came into the dining room. “That was your brother,” she said. “He wants to know if he can have your golf clubs after you, well, you know…”
“After I what?”
“After you die!” she said. “Remember? Your relatives think you’re about to croak!”
My daughter looked at me and said, “Maybe lying causes more problems than it solves.”
“Well, let’s not jump to conclusions because of one unfortunate misunderstanding,” I said.
The phone rang again. “I’ll get it,” I offered.
Ten minutes later I came back into the dining room and looked my daughter straight in the eye. “Don’t ever lie, honey—not even to telemarketers.”
“Who was on the phone?” my wife asked.
“The same lady as before. She told me all about their special Braille magazines.”
My wife laughed and said, “Serves you right! What’d you tell her this time? Did you finally tell the truth?”
“Um…let’s just say my Braille subscriptions will begin arriving next week.”
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