Whose Truth Is It?

Image credit: cdn.mumbaihangout.org
Image credit: cdn.mumbaihangout.org

In my former job I got to hear a lot of stories – some from people I knew and some from people I didn’t who probably hoped never to see me again, after realizing that they’d divulged WAY too much information.

I always wondered what prompted people to tell me things that were really none of my business, but maybe for them it was more than making conversation. Maybe they just wanted someone to hear their side.

I was reminded of one of those storytellers last week, when someone I knew gave a different spin on a TMI conversation that I had quite some ago, and I had a feeling that this version would have been pretty close to the other party’s story. My raconteur couldn’t have known this, so maybe it was a simple case of embarrassment that caused her to pass me straight when she saw me a while back.

But then there are times when you wish that you had been in the room.

That way you wouldn’t have to figure out the truth of a story by listening to both parts, deciding what doesn’t make sense and making your mind up about the rest. But since there are some people who don’t think like the rest of us, that might not be such a foolproof way of going about it.

He said/she said makes for an interesting story, but it’s a different kettle of fish when you have a horse in the actual race. Sorry for mixing my metaphors, but you get my point. Very recently I found myself wishing that I had been a proverbial fly on the wall when I was told two very different versions of a particular conversation.

Unfortunately my horse (or fish, depending on how you look at it), was at a disadvantage due to age, and although certain details of the other story seemed to change mid-stream the victor had already walked away with the spoils. We’ve heard that there are three sides to every story – two for the persons involved and the remaining side reserved for the truth.

The problem is that both always seem to claim it.

 

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How are you? Really?

family

When you ask someone, “How are you?” do you really listen to the answer?

Normally the responses are “fine”, “good”, “not bad” or “I’m okay, you know”. Some get a little more creative and say that they’re “blessed and highly favoured”, while others with music in their voices declare that they are “living in the Lord”.

But let’s face it – when we ask someone how they’re doing we’re mainly trying to be polite; it’s something to say as a greeting in passing. We aren’t really looking for the unabridged version. There’s always Facebook for that.

So what do you say when somebody answers your “How are you?” question with an “I’m not doing so good” response? You’d give a double-take for sure and then wonder if you heard the person correctly.

That’s what happened to my husband last week when he visited a business establishment whose door he hadn’t darkened in a long while – and attached to his salutation was the familiar question. Surprised by the response, my husband said he worried whether the honest answer was really a cry for help.

I asked whether he pressed him for details, but my husband’s habit is never to pry so he left that one alone. I was brought up to mind my own business too, but I wondered whether he would have been upset if I had asked him “But (name withheld) what’s bothering you?”- since after all he was the one who brought it up. I’m sure I would have had a lot more to write about in this post if I had.

I don’t suppose it’s my husband’s fault though, because when you haven’t seen someone in a while it’s only natural that you inquire about their health. But when he inquired of a wife about the welfare of her husband and he admitted to being a little thrown by the response – “he was fine the last time I saw him” – it’s clear that he needs to stop asking these questions. I understood where she was coming from though, because any number of things could have happened since she left him that morning.

And therein lies the danger of asking about the health of someone who isn’t right in front of you. These days, if you want to inquire about someone’s mother, father or significant other, it’s best to just use the general “How’s everybody  doing?”and find out about the changes that have taken place in the family that you missed. Because the only thing worse than asking a woman who’s put on a few pounds when her non-existent baby is due, is to inquire about someone else’s physical condition and realise that good health is the least of his problems since  – unfortunately, he’s no longer with us.

 

Just a Suggestion…

Image credit: footage.framepool.com
“Say aah” Image credit: footage.framepool.com

It was probably a lot easier to be a hypochondriac before there was the internet.

But that might not be entirely true – since in that time before search engines became popular, it meant going to a doctor with a list of symptoms for $150.00 a pop. Additional symptoms would mean additional visits and possibly some phone calls, which could eventually result in avoidance on the part of your medical practitioner.

These days you can save yourself a little money and do some of the work yourself by visiting any number of medical sites and plugging in the indicators to determine just what it is that ails you. Quite a few diseases have similar symptoms, so diagnose yourself incorrectly and you could see your life flashing before your eyes for absolutely no reason.

Most of these sites will tell you what steps you should take – one of which is to see a doctor, along with list of questions to ask when you get there, some types of medication likely to be prescribed, cures (if any), causes, treatment and likely outcomes. Some even discuss ways to manage a disease or condition using less conventional methods.

But that’s if you know what you’re looking for. Add to this wealth of information – that may or may not apply to your particular problem, are numerous TV shows that document rare disorders that befall about 1% of the population, but somehow you think you’re unlucky enough to get. After a while, the stories told in “Monsters Inside Of Me” don’t seem at all far-fetched.

It’s one thing to find out what’s causing those eruptions on your skin, but what do you do if your search has you convinced that you don’t have that long to live?

You’ll probably make some promises you wouldn’t ordinarily keep, adjust your lifestyle and modify your behaviour to make the most of the little time you have left. You’ll count your blessings every morning, revel in the sunrise instead of recording it and reach out to the person who you never really cared for and who cared for you even less.

An inconclusive diagnosis from the doctor or a clean bill of health is not the kind of news you’re really expecting, because there has to be a reason you’ve not been feeling like yourself. While keeping an eye on your current symptoms you find a few new complaints, so instead of going back to start over, you decide on a new practitioner so that you can repeat the tests you already submitted to, in the hopes that he can find something else.

A physical examination is a little nerve-wracking because you’re not entirely sure whether you want to pass or fail the test. You carefully watch the doctor’s reactions when you give the answers to his questions. Was that a good one? What does that nod signify? Should you tell him about your elevated heart rate now? The fall from the swing in kindergarten? The spill you took in front of the bank in ’93? When he says “Okay”, you wonder “okay to what”? He breathes while he listens to your heart beat… and says nothing. Is that a good nothing? Or a bad nothing? What does his blinking silence mean?

He finally speaks.

You listen intently.

He says he doesn’t see anything, and as he reaches for the form to indicate the tests to be taken, you pull out your mobile phone and open to the bookmarked page, because you’re ready…to make a few suggestions.

Holding My Tongue

Image credit: mebaneumc.com
Image credit: mebaneumc.com

I don’t make resolutions

At the start or at the end

But this year I made the promise

To change a bit, to bend

To see the good in others

Less judgments to be made

But people make it hard to do

To not – you know – throw shade

The drivers who “misjudge” the road

And end up on my side

The ones to whom I give a chance

But won’t let others slide

The parents with “outspoken” kids

When what they really are is “rude”

The teachers who feign sweetness

Masking their true attitudes

The women who genuinely believe

That every spoil creates a style

The people who of customers say

“Oh, she can wait a while”….

I’m trying to be kinder now

And gentler in my thoughts

Here’s to my self-improvement goal

Of never “going off”.

 

The Power of The Share

Image credit: blogspot.com
Image credit: blogspot.com

When did we get so busy that the replacement for a call

Is the sharing of another’s words we think will say it all?

 

When did we get so busy with our liking and our shares

That it’s become the perfect method of displaying that we care?

 

When did we get so busy imparting everything in sight

But fail to see what others mean even while we spread their light?

 

When did we get so busy giving strangers all the props

That we ignore the needs of those who are so very close to us?

 

When did we get so busy with withholding our support

From those who aren’t the members of our gang, or our cohorts?

 

When did we get so busy giving partial affirmation

And purging our consciences without much rhyme or reason?

 

When did we get so busy that it’s easy to ignore

That even in our sharing, secretly – we’re keeping score?

 

 

Year End Update 2015

Year end

I’m back again this year with the updates on a few stories that were reported on the blog this year. Most are from the latter part of this year so you might remember them – but I’ve provided links – so you can enjoy the stories again, and now see how they ended.

Three days after I wrote about the ad telling me where to go if someone had put a spell on me, the individuals who had placed the ad were arrested for operating a business without a license and for practicing obeah – both of which are against the law. The latter being one that goes back at least a century.

I had been unaware that it had been a trending topic in some quarters of social media, with several people expressing their dismay that the business was actually advertising its services. And in a case of extremely bad timing, another practitioner who chose to advertise in the paper that same week – was also taken in for questioning.

This is one time when it clearly did not pay to advertise.

If I thought that my rant about showing love by giving likes was going to change anything, I was sorely mistaken. With utter disregard for my feelings, people continue to post pictures of challenged and not-so-challenged individuals just so that they can watch the “like” meter climb.

Social media is the place to be seen, and most people look at the number of likes a post receives even before looking at the picture. People are making whole livelihoods out of telling others what, how and when to post in order to gain as much exposure as possible, so this “look at me” culture won’t be going away any time soon.

Haven’t we always been told that we won’t get what we want unless we ask for it?

Apparently 40 is the new 50 with many people seeing it as a milestone to be celebrated. All over social media – which has become my new complete source of information – people close to my age have been having parties and whooping it up and they haven’t even reached half a century yet.

I thought that we were living longer, but all this hoopla over a number far removed from the biblical three score and ten makes me wonder what I’m missing. Unlike the acquaintances who fished for compliments, this younger set is celebrating their milestones a little bit in adavnce.

Probably because getting the party started earlier means that you have more time to enjoy yourself.

I don’t know if he decided that he’d gotten all he could out of the ad, or if he decided to direct his funds elsewhere, or if he’d achieved his goal of becoming a household name, but about a week after I heard the tactless ad and wrote about it – it disappeared.

The obituaries still continue of course, but without the company’s reminder that we need to use its services to erect memorials to the people who left us some money. Whatever happened to just telling me what you’re selling and asking me to come and buy it?

However, if he’d done just that, I probably wouldn’t still be talking about it.

 

Happy New Year to all my readers, and here’s to more stories in 2016.

 

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Image credit: i.telegraph.co.uk
Image credit: i.telegraph.co.uk

How many of us think that our childhood – even with its deprivations – was the best ever?

Most of us will tell our children that with only one television channel that didn’t come on until late afternoon and that went off at twelve o’clock that night, we found activities to occupy our time. We’ll reminisce about the fact that playing outdoors was a thing, and creativity abounded when we had to approximate the items our parents couldn’t afford – or that they just weren’t going to buy for us.

I recently came across the title of a book entitled “Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World” by Kristen Welch and I wish I’d written it. If I had, I probably would have called it “Their Eyes Are Too Long” – which is what we say when we have enough but still want more. Most parents fall into the trap of wanting to give their children more than they themselves had, which in itself is not a bad thing but maybe we need to include some caveats before we hand the items over.

While waiting for my turn to discuss my daughter’s end of term results with the teacher, I overheard one parent remarking that her son didn’t have any cows to feed or milk before he got to school. It’s possible that the results on the report card didn’t reflect the easy life the young man was living, so I had a feeling that he might be in for a few house-related chores – if he’s lucky.

As my children grow older and can better understand, I’m tying this to that and rewarding effort when it’s made. By the same token, I won’t be shielding them from reality and sacrificing in an attempt to make things seem normal at a time when things clearly aren’t. Going without – unless it’s food – never killed anybody, is something I’m sure my mother must have told me.

The greatest season of entitlement is upon us and with children knowing who the real Santa Claus is, they’re going to have certain “expectations”. Some might even provide lists just in case they think we aren’t listening. What are you going to do when you get yours?