White lies – we all tell them and we often tell ourselves that they are harmless whenever they are uttered. Is there such a thing as white lies though? It’s a question I am asking myself after a recent episode that has landed me into some deep, hot water. I often have to find ice-cubes at work to cool off the water just a little bit. Here is my story.
I am in a taxi, 40 minutes away from work when I receive a call from a colleague asking me how far I am from the venue we are to hold a meeting in. I proudly say I am five minutes away from the building. I don’t think of any problems this might cause as I will think of another story to tell should he call again. At this stage he must have been calling for what seemed to have been the tenth time – the first phone call came when I was fast asleep and it’s the call that woke me up.
It’s not to say I don’t care about my internship because I really do, in fact it is the reason I am so late. I slept at four in the morning working on a killer presentation, but it seems like it was all in vain at this stage as I am rushing and telling lies over the phone just so those who have placed their trust in me don’t think I am incompetent.
After proudly uttering that I am outside the building trying to beg the security to let me in since I left my access card, the woman next to me giggles. Her giggles irritated me as she didn’t understand the importance of the meeting. How ruthless she is to laugh at me when I am about to get fired? The African man in me said “uyaloya lo mama” (she is a witch). However, the angel in me said “the woman is laughing at you because you’ve just lied to your colleague twice in just 5 minutes”. How ignorant am I not to recognise her as I always buy amagwinya (Fat cakes) from her during tea break.
At this stage the traffic starts building up and that causes us to slow day leading to me being even more late. In order to keep calm I try to memorise the most important points of the presentation I am not even sure whether I would be allowed to do or not. As I look at my watch I realise that I should have presented a couple of minutes ago and the traffic seems to be getting worse again, the woman looks at me and doesn’t stop giggling and I start wishing the taxi driver can break more rules than he would normally break on the road.
I am Christian and seldom lie so I start feeling guilty about the lies I have been telling since receiving the first phone call in the morning.
The war had to end, I gave in. I came out of that taxi knowing that I had a problem and had just told a lie to save my skin. There was no room for justification. Today I found something in me that I needed to work on. A flash of thought, “Ntokozo, you have been lying to yourself, you are not perfect. After admitting, really it has been a long morning; I went straight to my boss and told him the truth, nothing else but just that.
Can I really continue working for him with the guilt? How do I look at him in the face and tell him that I didn’t pitch up for work yesterday because taxis had an unplanned strike action without feeling that he probably doesn’t believe me. But again he is a man of great integrity and did forgive me after coming clean.
Lies mature, they grow from that minor one you told your mom when you were four. Remember when you told her that you didn’t steal the sugar whilst you had your mouth and cheeks fully coated by sugar. They extend to “Ms Van Wyk, I forgot my homework book at home”, when you knew precisely that you didn’t do it at all. Why does it feel okay to do that? Is it because we measure lies? Anything opposite to the truth is most certainly a lie.
Today I walked in these corridors with my head hanging in shame. I often wonder whether my superiors will ever trust me again so while I try to do the best I can in my internship I also have to work hard in regaining the trust of those I work with.