“Did you forget about our salted caramel shake?” The question caught me off guard, but they were right. Normally, I would concoct a grand tale about how there was a small fire at the shake station, one of the cords on the mixers had frayed and come in contact with an open bottle of Grenadine, but they were working on the shake with fervor despite the rising flames.
“Yes, I did. I went back to have a cup of coffee, got talking with another server, and forgot all about it,” I answered. “But I will get it right out.” They looked a bit surprised. I think they were expecting the same sort of story I was used to telling, and my candidness left them shocked. “Oh. Well…okay. Thanks. That sounds good.”
Given the lies we all sift through from bosses, cable news networks, politicians, and all the rest, the truth can be bewildering and refreshing, even if it is inconvenient.
If not for my side gig as a waiter, I don’t expect that this challenge would be all too difficult. After all, I try to live my life in an honest fashion. In fact, some of my friends would probably prefer that I were less honest than I am, or at least a bit quieter about it. In the restaurant world, however, as I would imagine is the case with any job where one deals with great masses of people each day, there are countless occasions where a simple lie can work wonders.
“What is the chef’s vegetable of the day?” We’re out. “Can I get those fries without any seasoning?” No you may not. “Why are our burgers taking so long?” A stray cat got into the HVAC unit, it should be sorted out shortly.
On some occasions, I’ve even suspected people would prefer to be lied to. We all lie to mask our own incompetence, and I think it’s just become the lay of the land. Well, when you throw a rabble-rouser like myself into the mix doing just the opposite, it tends to shake things up a bit.
Thus far, One Week Without Lying has been something of a great joy for me. I don’t try to mess up, but if I do I will admit to it and tell people exactly what I did instead. The looks on their faces are priceless, and after a joke or two I’ve got them back in the palm of my hand and all is well once more. I have on two occasions caught myself in the middle of lie, like some sort of involuntary convulsion, and been forced to cut myself off and admit the truth. In general though, I’ve stayed on top of it and the challenge has been a success.
The part of this week’s challenge that I’m just now getting deeper into, and will certainly have more to share in this week’s wrapup, deals with uncovering whether I lie to myself, and what I lie about. To wit, I’ve been exploring cognitive biases, and specifically the subgroup of positive illusions: inflated assessment of one’s own abilities, unrealistic optimism, and illusion of control. I think that through exploring the way my mind works, and works against itself, I can root out the illusions I create for myself and get closer to reality, for good or ill.
It has been a particularly exhausting weekend, however. I realized on Saturday that I haven’t had a day off of both jobs since mid-January. So, I’ve decided to take tomorrow off, pack up some fruit, Clif Bars, and a few books, leave my cell phone and computer behind, and head off into the woods until I feel like coming back. I expect I’ll have ample time to think through it all out there, and am excited to report back with what I find.
may we all get better together.
Start your own One Week With/out challenge! Begin here.