There seems to be an epidemic of “saving face” going around. People making mistakes but explaining them away so they don’t look quite so foolish or inadequate. Recently, I sent my grandson into a hardware store to get some antifreeze for a car. I told him to get two gallons of full strength general purpose antifreeze. He went up to the check-out counter and asked two young ladies what they had in the way of this product. They told him there was the Extended and the Regular, but the Extended cost three dollars more. So he got the Extended. When he returned to the car, he had the fluid that specified it was for aluminum radiators. I reminded him I said Regular full strength. He said he didn’t hear me clearly for the wind was blowing in his good ear, and the other one he had trouble hearing out of.
Really? The wind was blowing too strongly? It was probably because he forgot what I asked for when he saw the two pretty women at the check-out counter, and didn’t want to appear dumb about what “Extended” meant. (Now, that’s why I don’t like letting young girls help me in a hardware store. They usually have limited knowledge about the products.)
My question is why didn’t he simply say, “Sorry, I wasn’t listening too well, and I just forgot what you wanted.” End of story. My appreciation for his candor would’ve been much higher than a cacophony story about the wind.
It seems this is a common practice. “I’m late to work because my child threw up (couldn’t find her shoes). My aunt died (four times in the past). I was ill (with a hang-over).”
Is it because we are expected to be perfect? Or is it because we don’t want to suffer the consequences of an honest answer? We can’t accept being wrong?
Under the correction of thoughtful parents, many children learn that honesty is the best policy, and that it leads to mature decisions. I just want to say to “old” children (over 18) who haven’t learned this lesson:
“Man or woman-up and tell it straight. You will be more respected if you do. And most excuses are transparent—people can see through them immediately.”