Remember the commercial where the frizzy-haired blonde goes through the checkout lane, looks at her receipt in amazement, then runs from the store with her packages, yelling “Start the car! Start the car!” to her befuddled husband. She jumps into the car, they drive off, and she whoops with glee. Why? Because she thinks the store undercharged her. What a role model! Shouldn’t she have said something to the clerk? Don’t be silly! There’s nothing like cheating someone to really make your day, I always say. And if you run into anyone foolish enough to think cheating is wrong, just point them to that ad.
And I love the series of ads featuring various couples standing in their front yard saying “We owed the government $417,312 (or $20,000, or $6,918) in back taxes, but thanks to Screwem & Sons, we paid only $3.20.” Way to go, folks. How in the hell did you manage to get so far behind in the first place? Ever consider cutting back on your spending? (What? When you can in effect cheat your way out of your responsibilities? Nonsense!) Or you can file bankruptcy and leave your creditors holding the bag for the debt you incurred.
I know, I know…we all cheat in some way or another. We all fudge a bit on our taxes. Few people are noble enough to be totally honest in matters where to do so will cost them more money than they think is right or fair. There’s no harm in it, really. Is there? Anyone who rigidly obeys every law…many of which are ridiculous to begin with…is looked upon with mild scorn.
Being misleading is just a few steps below whit lies as a form of cheating, and is, to be honest, the foundation of the advertising industry. We’re totally used to the fact that only one tenth of one percent of what we’re promised in ads actually fully lives up to that promise. (The photos fast food chains use for their “Double-Triple-Piled-High Burger” bear absolutely no resemblance to what you’re handed if you’re foolish enough to go and order one.) The art of advertising photography is completely built on misleading prospective buyers. Ice cream is really lard, milk is watered-down Elmer’s glue, coffee is tea, and those little bubbles of freshness along the inner rim of the cup are created by using soap. The explanation that many foodstuffs do not photograph well…real coffee photographs like crankcase sludge…and that real ice-cream would melt under the heat of the lamps necessary to light it makes sense. But it’s still cheating.
Seen or heard those ads which say: “Emerging science suggests that Blexaplus-D may help reduce the signs of aging” or whatever. Now, that’s not cheating. They’re telling you the partial truth, but in a way which equals cheating. Look at it again. “Emerging (not established) science suggests (doesn’t say for sure) that Blexaplus-D may (not will) help (not completely do the job) reduce (not eliminate) the signs of aging (not aging itself).” Wonderful. I’ll take ten bottles/jars/tubs/tubes, please.
Loan companies engage in an oblique form of cheating those in debt. It’s cheating by omission, in not revealing what admittedly should be obvious but is not to those who don’t bother to think before acting. They’re more than happy to lend you money to pay off overdue bills, but they neglect to mention that not only will the bills you got behind on keep on coming each month, but you will have the additional burden of paying off the loan. Well, I’m sure you can take out another loan to pay off the original loan. It’s a vicious circle.
And each day we must carefully tiptoe our way through a maze of double standards, hypocrisy, contradictions, half-truths and outright lies. Is it any wonder we have a hard time coping? But it'll all get better soon. Really, it will. Trust me.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1).