Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Getting the real story behind truthiness

My older brother Tom, a guy I look up to and trust, told me that in Canada, if a guy gets sentenced to 99 years in prison and dies while serving time, one of his sons or brothers has to go in and serve the remainder of the term. I of course believed him. He's about a dozen years older than me.
BELIEVE ME YOU: When it came to gullibility, I was an early adopter. 

I figure I was probably in early grade school when he explained the correctional system to me.  

Around the same time, Tom told me there was a restaurant in Toronto that was “so fancy” that after they put food in front of a customer, a person from each and every country in the world came out and tasted your food to ensure it was good enough.  

How fancy can you get? (You’re thinking, “never mind me, how dense can you get?’”)

Tom once sent me out to buy striped paint. I went.

Some people who know me suggest I trusted Tom so implicitly because you always tend to trust the person you’re sleeping with. Tom and I shared a bed from the time I was four 'til I was a teenager. (My folks had 10 kids. Three bedrooms. What choice was there?)

I, on the other hand, know I trusted Tom because I believe anything anyone tells me.

Except for my brother Eddie. With him, for some  reason,  I’m in ‘sez you’ mode pretty much 99 percent of the time.  The thing is, with Eddie, 99 percent of the time he actually does come back and prove his point. Drives me nuts. But that’s what siblings are for.


You’d think a seasoned reporter like myself would always have the b.s. detector cranked up to 11. And you would be wrong.

If a perfect stranger came into this room right now, introduced himself and told me about how he singlehandedly saved a sailboat full of immigrant kids from drowning in Lesser Slave Lake in 1982, I would suck up every syllable and hail him as a hero. I would call people up and tell them.  And I don’t even know if there really is a Lesser Slave Lake.

What’s weird is, I’ve asked a couple of my journalist pals if they’re gullible like me, and several told me they were. I’ve also gotten yesses to these other journalistic questions: “Have you hurried up near the end of an interview because you had to go to the bathroom really badly but didn’t want to admit it?” And, “ever decided to NOT include a certain fact or quotation in a story simply because you couldn’t read your own handwritten notes?”

The thing is, we soft-nosed journalists tend to tell as close to the truth as we can. And we wonder why anybody else wouldn’t.

Also. I believe questions, too.  When a person asks how I'm doing, I assume he or she is genuinely curious so I answer.

Last January, I brought my car in for an oil change. It was one of the snowiest days of the year and the drive across Toronto was particularly slow. It took an hour to get to the shop.

There, Julian the service attendant asked how my drive in was.

I told him.

“Julian. I just had one of the most pleasant hours in recent memory. I was sitting peacefully in the Malibu driver seat, which if you think about it is the most comfortable chair in my life. It’s soft but has adjustable lumbar support. Wouldn’t it be cool if all the chairs in your house were that comfortable? And the car’s stereo system is fantastic. Four speakers, extremely high-quality sound, and with the CD player and the incredible variety of radio stations in Toronto, there’s no end to the entertainment possibilities. I had a hot coffee; I wasn’t in a hurry and I was feeling pretty healthy and didn’t have to go to the bathroom and the car's climate control system works perfectly. I had a phone I could use if I chose to, but I could also ignore it if I wanted to because I was driving after all.  It was like an hour-long recess and in fact I was kind of sad when the ride was over.”

It was clear from his expression that THAT was not the answer he’d been looking for, and he said, “Man, I’ve never heard anybody do sarcasm as beautifully as you.”

Me: “I wasn’t being sarcastic.”

Just telling it like it is.

Doesn’t everybody?

Your answers are more than welcome and I mean that. Of course.

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