How Corrupt Am I?
As a kid I lied a lot. So my parents were very black and white on lying. It wasn't until I was a teenager that my mother explained the fine art of the white lie. "If a friend asks if you like their dress and you hate it, you can say 'That shade of pink is beautiful!'"
As an adult I lie very little, except for white lies, which I feel no guilt over, and at work, which also creates no guilt. One time, back when I worked with Cowboy and Nice Partner, Cowboy called from his car, demanding to speak with Nice Partner, who was on the phone with someone already. Nice Partner hated nothing more than to be interrupted (with stupidity a close second), so I told Cowboy that Nice Partner wasn't available due to being on the phone. Cowboy told me to interrupt.
I interrupted. Nice Partner gave me his Glare of Death. Told me to tell Cowboy he was on the other line. Cowboy told me to tell Nice Partner that he was holding for him. It was very awkward. Later, after Nice Partner was off the phone, I knocked on his door.
"I know you don't like to be interrupted and am sorry I did it, but I had Cowboy demanding that I interrupt you. How do you want me to handle it next time this comes up?" At that point Nice Partner's Glare of Death dissipated as he understood the position I'd been in. He thought about it for a second, and then told me, "Lie. Tell Cowboy I'm not here." I nodded, thanked him, and walked away. Legal secretaries tell people who call that the attorney is not there, when in fact s/he may very well be standing right at their desk. That kind of lie is just fine with me.
However. When I was a little girl I'd go food shopping with my grandma and she would take a grape from the produce section, or a jelly bean from the bulk section. I was taught this was stealing, and to this day, I hate seeing people do that. It's one thing when Whole Foods has clearly put out samples for people to taste, but other than that? Wrong.
It's hard to explain if you don't understand it without using the cliche that desperate times call for desperate measures, but since I've been out of work, my standards have ... become more flexible.
Last night I got a Safeway delivery, and the delivery guy accidentally left me with a package of Keebler cookies I hadn't ordered. Every once in a while something has been tossed into your delivery that's not yours. If I notice it before the Safeway guy has left my floor, I open the door and run after him. If I notice it after he's left, I call Safeway to let them know. Last night I called Safeway to tell them about the cookies I hadn't ordered. They told me to go ahead and keep them.
Thing is, I don't need any cookies. But I do need milk. And potatoes. In another lifetime, I would just bring the cookies to work so other people could enjoy them. But I don't have a "work" these days. So I am tempted to bring those cookies back to the supermarket and exchange them for foods I actually need. It's not something I would do if I were working and earning money. And it's not that I think that because I'm in an extreme situation it's okay to do, because I don't.
This afternoon I got a call from a temp agency. They need someone to do transcription tomorrow. I was told it will be the entire day. I want to take that as license to work as slowly as I can, to stretch the tapes out to last the full work day. Even if in reality it only takes me four or five hours. Again, totally wrong. And yet.
There's a bookstore in the Ferry Building here in San Francisco. Outside of their store they have a cart with books on it. There's a sign on the cart. Normally the type of sign you'd see would say something about shoplifters being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But not here, not in hippie dippie San Francisco. No, the sign here says not to steal because if you do, karma will get you.
I've gone through stretches of time where I am a really good person. And you know what? Good things don't come to me just because of that. I've had bad things happen when I've been good, and good things happen when I've been a bad person. So despite the fact that my mom used to tell me, "God'll get ya," when I search for reasons not to do things like exchange something I didn't pay for to get something I need, or to stretch out an assignment since they think that's how long it will take even if I can get it done sooner, I come up empty these days.