I think I thought blogging was going to be a way to get me actually to write, since I’m continually avoiding writing the novel that I’m supposedly working on. Now I find that it’s just another thing to avoid writing. I have some rather convoluted thoughts in my head right now (more convoluted than the ones I’ve been writing about so far) which I am, apparently, afraid to put down on paper. I mean, on blog. I’m afraid of what actually starting to write about them will unleash in my head, and also I’m afraid that the ensuing posts will be so long no one will read them. I’m not sure how to break them up into bite-sized chunks, which, apart from any other reasons, is sort of necessary due to time constraints. For example, I need to leave for work in half an hour.
As a way of appeasing my readers (who, while not very verbose, are apparently avid) and my conscience, I will therefore describe a strange little thought that skipped into my head before I fell asleep last night.
Last evening, my roommate and I had a little discussion, the hub of which was a miscommunication. What I realized about myself in the course of said discussion was that I am not always as honest as I think I am, and that usually the reason is manners. Or at least what I grew up understanding manners to be. In our family, you don’t just tell someone what you’re going to do, or what you want them to do. You phrase it as a question, or as a hint. For example, my grandfather used to say things like, “Would anyone like the salt?” Meaning, “Hand over the salt.” Or, “Well, we love you,” meaning, “We’ve talked on the phone plenty long enough; now let’s just hang up and talk again some other time.” When I’m at work supervising a shift, I say things like, “Would you mind making some more iced coffee?” when what I mean is, “Make some more iced coffee.” In my immediate family, if we want to let people know our plans, we often say, “I’m going to do blah blah—is that okay with you?” The correct, polite answer is always, “Sure,” even if it isn’t okay with that person.
This method of communication works okay if you understand the intent behind it, but I’m not sure how many people do. In college, a friend of mine once said, “Jenn, you’re so polite, if you weren’t my friend, I would hate you.” I understood this to have been said in the most affectionate way possible, so I wasn’t offended. Now I also maybe understand its meaning, as well. This kind of manners that is my first language is, as my roommate hesitantly pointed out last night, “kind of lying.” After this observation (with which I agreed), I started thinking about manners in general, and I probably most of them are “kind of lying.”
I mean, if you want something, you don’t have to beat around the bush about it and you can still be polite. As in, “Please pass the salt.” It is understood that the salt is desired, but “please” makes the expression of said desire less abrasive. On the other hand, when I’m at work and a customer is getting on my nerves, I still have to say, “Thanks very much—have a nice day!” (preferably sounding like I mean it), even if what I want to say is, “I’m not actually your slave, jerk,” or if I want to kick him or her in the head or something. This is not very honest. But it is polite.
I find this to be quite a conundrum, because I believe that the Bible does not condone deceit. On the other hand, I doubt it condones kicking people in the head just because they forgot to tell you they wanted their drink iced and acted as if it was your fault and you should have been able to read their minds.
I think I still vote for manners, if for no other reason than the fact that most of the time I feel like being rude to customers, it’s because they have ordered their drink while talking on their cell phone or because they have been otherwise rude to me. Manners act like a buffer, and they remind me (sometimes) that other human beings are other human beings, and should be treated with respect even if I, at that moment, don’t actually respect them. Also, although I think this is supposed to happen more than it does, theoretically there’s always the off chance that by treating people as if I care about them, I might actually start to care about them. Then the deceit becomes the truth and so I’m not lying and what’s more, I haven’t kicked anyone.
I’m still not sure what the answer is for telling someone what I intend to do. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes; at the same time, I might get mad if I phrase my plans as a question and the person answering the question objects. This is something I still need to consider. But later. For now I'm just going to go to work, if it's okay with you.