Sunday, June 13, 2010

Little White Lies

4/5/13 - I was told that "Little White Lies" is not the best title for this post, however, I hope you will still read it along with the comments from my readers. Thank you. defines white lie as “a minor, polite, or harmless lie; fib.” Its second definition is, “an often trivial, diplomatic or well-intentioned untruth.”

My fourteen year old daughter and I have some rare alone-time. She needs shoes for the eighth grade dance and we’re out shopping.

Leaving one shoe store, headed for another, I spot the bridal store. For years, my wedding dress has hung in my closet, and recently, my deceased mother-in-law’s wedding gown has taken up residence in another closet. My father-in-law gave it to my daughters, hoping that one of them might want to wear it some day.

Back to the bridal store…

Hayley and I go in to buy two preservation kits. “Hmmm…more expensive than I thought.”

I ask the sales rep, “If I buy two, would you be able to give me a discount?”

“No, I’m sorry. Another company handles this.”
“Oh. I’ll give it some thought.”

“Did you buy your dress here?”
“Yes, but it was over fifteen years ago.”

“Well if you decide to get the kits, just tell them you bought both dresses here and you’ll get a $60 discount off each.”
(My thought, “Good deal, but…I didn’t buy ‘both’ here.”)

I leave the store, but come back five minutes later to get “one” kit. My sales rep is gone, so I tell another sales rep about the discount that was offered to me earlier - for the dress that I’d bought here years ago. Of course, my name is not in the computer because my purchase was so long ago, but the manager decides to honor the offer quoted to me by the first sales rep.

As my daughter and I walk to the car, the thought occurs to me that she has watched and listened to the whole transaction. "What does she think? Something? Nothing?"

I’m wondering, “Did she notice the salesperson advising me to tell ‘the little white lie’ so that I can get a discount on ‘both’ kits”? I say to her, “Hayley, when I decide to buy the second kit, I won’t say the dress comes from this store – because it didn’t.”

The case of the “discounted wedding preservation kit” made me think about times when I have opted to succumb to the little white lie, like:

* I’ve been given back more change than owed to me.
My defense: “It’s only a dollar, I’m now ‘out’ of the store, and I don’t want to embarrass the employee.”

* My twelve year old paid the kids’ price for her buffet meal.
My defense: “They didn’t ask how old she is, she’s small for her age, and she can barely ‘eat’ the value of the kids’ meal.”

* When Husband and I were younger, newly married, and childless, we went to a museum during its opening month and found out we couldn’t go beyond the first floor because we didn’t have tickets, which were sold out. A “worker bee” employee saw us and asked if we’d like to see the rest of the museum. We said yes, he guided us up an elevator, and we were “in.”
My defense: “We didn’t ask him. It was his suggestion. And maybe he ‘did’ have the authority to let us see the museum without a ticket.”

Since having children, I’m more aware of these “untruths.” And I tend to notice when friends tell their kids to lie about not being home, or being younger to get the child’s admission fee. I’ve also heard, “Tell’em you’re sick and you can’t go,” etc.

Are little white lies harmless?

By the way, the last time we ate at CiCi’s Pizza (this website has audio), my twelve year old spoke up to be sure the person on the register knew she was not a “kid!”

Do you have any “little white lie” or "flat out lie" stories or opinions to share?

6/14/10 - My bloggy friend, Tracey, has corrected me on what a little white lie is. She is comment #7. I got a little carried away with my examples, but, I'll leave the title as is, because it gets the attention of the readers. Thanks Tracy. :)

6/16/10 - Another comment has prompted me to tell you that the "child's fee restaurant incident" happened once and was not noticeable until after I paid. Once I realized it, I should have turned back and had it corrected, but I didn't.


Unknown said...

I am trying to break the habit of small lies, as I recently got into the habit of saying I'm busy or sick when the truth is I don't want to attend a certain meeting/social event/etc. Once a lady gave me a large back of money in a bag rather than the magazine I purchased at a bookstore. And... she was too rude to take the bag back. I had to REALLY insist that she exchange the booty for my mag. And she never said thanks. But I felt better.

MissKris said...

As Christians, we try to always tell the truth. And if we find we weren't quite accurate about something, we'll go back and make restitution for it. But I have a story from years ago before my Dear Hubby and I became Christians. We were young and wild and newly married and hardly had a penny to our names. We'd gone to a local Fred Meyer store to buy Dear Hubby a pair of shoes. In the transaction, the clerk gave us $10 too much in change. We noticed it right then, just kind of smiled at each other, and didn't say anything...just pocketed the change. It's funny, but when we became Christians that was one of the first restitutions that came to both our minds. I sat down and wrote a letter to Mr. Meyer, the founder of the store who was still alive at the time, and enclosed a check for $10, telling him the story behind the money. Not long after, we received a beautiful letter from him, thanking us for our honesty and how much it touched his heart. Any other restitution we've made thru the years has had similar results. In the end, "Honesty is the best policy".

yonca said...

I never could do this.Even though it's little and white:)
Hope you're having a great day Anita.

Menopausal New Mom said...

Good one Anita. I guess I will have to start considering what role model I want to be for my daughter.

As for the "little white lies", I would probably have gone for the discount on the second preservation kit. My own opinion is that for the price of them, the $60 discount is reasonable. It's kind of like being offered the sale price on an item even though you are in the store a day or two before the sale begins. Personally I believe the stores are happy to have my business and if employees offer me a discount to ensure I am a repeat customer, I'm fine with that.

As for the little white lies around my house, the closest I can come to that is ignoring the telephone when it rings because I don't feel like talking to anyone. It almost never fails, I finally get to have an hour to myself (if hubby takes our daughter somewhere) and as soon as I settle down on the couch to read/watch tv or whatever, the phone will ring. I ignore it believing that if it's an emergency they will call back. 9 times out of 10 it's one of my stepchildren anyway and I don't feel like making small talk during my very limited "me" time.

I guess that even thought that makes me a terrible person, I'm a happy one after having a little time all to myself :)

BTW - while reading this comment the phone rang and you guessed it! I ignored it!!!!

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

Children learn what they live. The most dangerous white lies are those we say without being conscious of them.

I really applaud your efforts to be aware and cautious.

One Photo said...

Good topic Anita - as my daughter is still only three I've not had to think about this really up to now, but I think we do have to set a good example to our children and not do the "wrong" thing and be honest in our relationships and transactions. I guess the exception I will try and teach my daughter is when telling a white lie is a kindness to another person - if a friend is sick and you say for example you look better today, to perk them up.

Tracey said...

I thought one told white lies to spare other's feelings. As in, "What do you think of my new dress?" and you say the hideously unflattering creation is "a nice color."

Or deflect questions, the answers to which are really none of the asker's business. As in, "So, why haven't you had any kids yet?" And you say, "Oh, we are just enjoying being married right now," when really you are desperate to get pregnant but can't.

I think the examples you gave are just flat out lies. Taking the discount on the preservation kit would have harmed the company and benefited you. That employee should be ashamed.

The buffet probably didn't hurt the company any, and they didn't ask. So this is a little more vague. But it would set a bad example for the twelve year old.

The no ticket thing, I think is a pass. I don't think the employee cared if you had tickets. They were just being generous.

Having said that, I once left a Walmart with a hair brush I did not see during self-check-out. The place was packed on a weekend, so I told myself that I would come back on a Tuesday and pay for it. Then when I got home, I found the hair brush I thought I had lost while traveling, and was trying to replace with the "stolen" brush.

So then I had a dilemma. I had to return a brush to the store that I no longer needed, but did not pay for. How could I "return" it at customer service? I thought about just sneaking it back in the store and putting it back on the shelf but was worried I would get busted for shop lifting. In the end, I kept it. Even though I am sure I could have found a way to return it.

I don' think this was a white lie either, but it seems in the spirit of the thing.

And to Menopausal New Mom's comment, nothing says you have to answer your phone just because you are home.

Buckeroomama said...

I do this sometimes, especially when I'm trying to be "creative" with explanations to the kids about they why's of certain things. I know it's not right and I should make more of an effort to properly explain things, but sometimes I feel like a deer caught in the headlights when they throw these questions at me when I least expect them.

Anita said...

Hello EVERYONE, Thanks as always for the GOOD answers and opinions!

I added a footnote to the post because of TRACEY'S comment. I may have unintentionally expanded the definition of "little white lie." I thought small lies were included if the participants felt that no one gets hurt, but perhaps it only applies when kindness is involved.
I don't know.
Either way, I'm happy about the comments you all have left, and hope to get more on the subject.


M O R E P L E A S E!

gayle said...

Thank you for this post!! It made me stop and think....when I tell my grandson that Target is closed and it really isn't......I shouldn't be telling him a lie because it is teaching him to lie!

Just Two Chicks said...

I suppose it counts as a little white lie when someone asks you if you like their shoes and you say yes, when in reality you don't. I guess you could "play attorney" and say "Those are very interesting!" Hmmm... Lying has been a huge topic of discussion in our house lately with the 15 year old making us ultra sensitive to anything even resembling a lie. I hear "I'm just kidding!" a LOT now.

SuziCate said...

Fabulous post. I think lying eats us alive with guilt. I hate even little white lies like "yes, you look fabulous"...however, I'm such a terrible liar that my friend will laugh and tell me she knows I'm lying to just try and help her put her outfit together or help her pick out a new one. I've evnen tried diverting attention if I don't want to answer a question to avoid hurting someone's feelings...maybe I need classes on this. You did the right thing. I could not have lied to get a discount and it is important to teach your children by example. You are a wonderful mother and person.

Betty W said...

I hate any kind of lie and even a white lie is hard for me to do.

Check out my blog tomorrow. There´s something for you there.

Cathy said...

Hello Anita
Out with friends not long ago there was a cheaper entry price for Seniors and one of them (grey haired) just nodded when asked for that amount as an admission price. I had to look theother way but if the truth be told Tellers always know whats what and will turn a blind eye - unless you are really being dishonest.
Now I actually think answering or not answering the phone is totally different - also choosing not to answer the door bell if you know who's there and would rather not. Some may see it as dishonest, I don't, its a choice I make as an adult. Similar to the days of being presented with a calling card and telling the butler 'Sorry I'm not at home'
Take care

Anita said...

GAYLE, PERFECTLY, SUZICATE, BETTY, CATHY - You've all left more interesting comments. :)

I think we all avoid the phone sometimes. I just tell my kids not to answer it instead of answering it and telling the caller I'm not home.

For those of you who still have kids at home, good luck, best wishes, God bless you...all of the above!

Thanks SUZICATE for the personal compliment. That means a lot to me.

BETTY, I'll head over to your blog to find my surprise. :)


Abby said...

I ignore the phone. A lot. I don't consider it lying. I consider it being truthful, actually, as in, "I honestly don't want to talk on the phone right now".

Other than that, though, I try to always be truthful. The wedding dress thing and the kids' buffet thing, I couldn't do.

Once, we were at a small amusement park place with my snobby father-in-law. He wanted us to say one of our kids was younger, so we could get cheaper tickets. Not only was I offended, but he suggested it right in front of our kids. It turned out good, though, because both my husband and I said no way we would do that, so a good thing for the kids to see I suppose.

Anita said...

ABBY - I agree. I think it is good for the kids to see honesty and to not put such a high value on money and material things at the cost of lying. Relatives do tend to interfere and send mixed messages. But, I guess we continue to put it in the teachable moment category.

I ignore the phone a LOT too, but I "never" tell my kids to say I'm not home if one of them just happens to answer it before I can say "Don't answer it!"

Thanks for adding to this very interestion conversation.


diney said...

Difficult because we all find we need to tell little white lies at times to save feelings from getting hurt, and it is not always easy to explain that moral code to a child, but parenting is never easy! And that's no lie!

Rebecca S. said...

Very interesting topic to consider. I really try to keep my conscience as clear as possible because I'm pretty sensitive and will only hurt myself if I am not at peace about what I have done or not done. That being said, there have been times when I have bent the truth a little in order to be 'nice'. And let's face it - sometimes others force us to tell little lies because they just won't listen to the truth.

Annie Z said...

You always come up with the most interesting and thought provoking topics! It's been most interesting reading your words and the words of all those that have commented.

Morgan said...

I try not too. In the case of the discount, I would try to get the discount for both preservation kits but do it honestly through negotiation (this actually works well in many cases).

A couple years ago I got home from a store and realized I wasn't charged enough for my bill. I called the store up (hoping they'd say just keep it since it was their mistake) and they said "thank you" and put the rest I owed then onto my debit card. At least I knew I did the right thing, even if it did cost me.