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Why lie?

Why do people lie? I’m not talking about telling a white lie here and there to spare someone’s feelings. I’ve said things like “Yes, I enjoyed your German chocolate cake,” when I can’t stand German chocolate cake. Saying such a thing makes the person who baked the cake feel good and doesn’t hurt anyone. Little things like that aren’t my point here. I’m talking about telling whoppers and often.

Through my day job, I catch people in lies a lot. Someone who swears she lives alone can’t hide the fact she has three other people living with her once we arrive to work on the home. Someone who makes $800.00 a month probably isn’t going to live in a half million dollar house, drive a nicer car than mine, and wear jeans that cost $125.00 a pair.

Yes, I know it’s possible the person inherited the house or bought it during better times. A relative or friend could be supplying the car and expensive pants. There could be a benefactor involved, but it’s more likely that person is hiding income.

Earlier this week, I had a lady tell me that she went a year without eating because she had bills to pay. She may have lived on hotdogs and Ramen Noodles or participated in a food bank during that year, but I know she had to eat something.

She had a lot of things to say during her visit, and most of them were just as far fetched. Her story changed the longer she talked with her situation becoming worse and worse with each passing moment. I’m doubtful of everything she said because I know she told me at least one falsehood.

Why make up such a thing? She was probably trying to guilt us into helping her. She said if won’t help, she’ll just go another year without eating. What she doesn’t understand is that our personal feelings have no bearing on whether she receives our services. Our rules are set by the state, and we cannot deviate from them. Whether she receives help will depend upon if she meets the state mandated criteria or not.

I know of another person who lied about her occupation. She claimed to be a health care professional when she was nothing of the sort. A person with whom I’m acquainted claimed to be a mechanic, but he couldn’t even figure out how to change his own brake pads.

My husband used to lie about smoking when he was in the process of quitting. I could smell it on him, but he’d tell me he smelled that way because he stood next to someone else who was smoking. He’d wipe his hands with Clorox Wipes, thinking that would kill the smell. It just made him stink of cigarettes and bleach.

Why do people say these things? In my husband’s case, I called him on it. I kept telling him I wasn’t stupid and knew he was smoking. I can’t really confront those with whom I deal professionally or know socially about their untruths. My employer frowns on confrontation.

I could tell you I’m an astronaut or a billionaire rancher all day long, but what purpose would such a lie serve? It would only make you doubt me from here on out.

My mom had a saying when I was a kid that reverberates in my brain every time I catch someone in a lie. “Why lie when the truth would work better?” Why indeed?

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