Now, I know that lying is generally socially unacceptable, at least that’s what we are led to believe from a young age. From the moment we can talk we are told that honesty is the best policy; that it will help us come out on top: ‘Be honest,’ we tell the guilty child. ‘Own up and you will be rewarded.’
So what puzzles me the older I get is that lying, albeit in a somewhat ‘being ambiguous or vague about the truth’ sort of way, is deemed ok. You are even, perhaps, deemed a fool if you do not partake.
For example, via the rather unreliable source of the careers networking site Linked In, you are able to publically observe the glowing terms in which people describe their previous roles. A summer of work experience half a day a week at the local t-shirt printing shop (predominantly creating sets of co-ordinated pink hen-do kits for Newquay trips) becomes a three month placement for a boutique designer emporium, with an active input into the design and implementation of bespoke pieces.
A Saturday job at the local chemist becomes a make-up and perfume consultant with buying responsibilities: ‘Sharon, we’ve run out of the sparkles lip gloss in ‘pearl pink’ shade. Betta order some more.’
So, when my boyfriend and I decided to spontaneously shop around for flights in preparation for an up-and-coming trip, he presumably assumed I knew the subtext without having to brief me on the unwritten rules. We’d already had a quote from another competing company and, when asked the competitor’s price, he gave a ‘rough’ (and this is where he wasn’t really lying, I suppose, in his emphasis on the roughness) estimate (within about £100). I promptly corrected him to the exact number (say £50 higher) and also kindly corrected his misremembering when he couldn’t quite recall if this also included visas. ‘No,’ I confirmed, ‘they definitely weren’t included.’
It reminded me of an episode on a Sicilian beach a year before. We had unfortunately been caught in a severe storm the night before and all of our things were soaked. My boyfriend decided to buy a towel from one of the slightly dodgy looking sellers on the beach. When told his chosen design was €15, he asked would the seller accept €10 as that was all he had in his wallet at the time.
I piped up, helpfully: ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got the extra five.’
The man looked confused, obviously unfamiliar with this eccentric and inconsistent manner of bartering.