Have you ever noticed that when famous people issue statements, or answer difficult interview questions, that they often say the same things? It’s almost as if they share a rulebook, filled with excuses. And it’s not just famous people. Even in our everyday lives, people don’t say what they really mean. As a public service, I would like to list a few of the more common falsehoods, followed by the truth.
When an embattled Senator says, “I have decided not to seek re-election so I can spend more time with my family,” he really means, “My polls show I couldn’t win this election if I handed out hundred-dollar bills to each voter.”
A few months later, when that same former Senator suddenly accepts a position as a lobbyist, or as Ambassador to Luxembourg, he says, “It was a difficult decision, but after talking it over with my family, we agreed that I should accept this wonderful opportunity.” What he really means is, “Thank goodness, I finally got a job offer!”
When a prospective political candidate tells the press, “People are urging me to run, but I’m still exploring the possibility of a race,” he really means, “I wish some people would actually urge me to run, and better yet, send me some money!”
When the same person eventually enters the race, he says, “After much consideration, I have decided to run so that I may achieve my lifelong dream of public service.” What he really means is, “Woo hoo! They sent me some money!”
When the company memo says, “Mr. Dumbledore has left the company to pursue other interests, and we wish him all the best,” it usually means, “We caught him with one hand in the cash drawer, and the other hand holding a bottle of whiskey, and if you know Dumbledore, he has probably crossed the state line by now.”
When someone leans into you and says, “With all due respect…” you are about to get disrespected. It usually goes like this: “With all due respect Erma, whoever said you could make corn bread must have lost their taste buds when Nixon was president.”
Same goes with, “No offense, but.…” When someone begins their sentence with that phrase, just turn around. Otherwise, you’ll hear, “No offense Elbert, but when your belly hangs down to your knees, it might be time to buy a new t-shirt.” Oh thanks, I was afraid you were going to offend me there for a minute.
Once you reach a certain age, an old acquaintance will walk up and say, “Is that you Ludwig? Mercy, for your age, you sure are looking good!” What they really mean is, “Your name came up last week, and I could have sworn you’ve been dead for years.”
When the retail chain issues a statement to the media saying, “We are reorganizing our workforce to better serve the public,” it really means, “We are letting all of our sales associates go, and the customers will have to figure it out on their own. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to go raise some prices.”
When the recorded voice on the phone says, “Please listen carefully, because our options have changed,” it really means, “Just go ahead and press zero. We only have one real person for every hundred calls, so you’re going to be waiting for three hours anyway.”
(Of course, being an eternal optimist, I take my chances, listening to that annoying “on hold” music.) Another recorded voice interrupts and says, “Your call is very important to us, please stay on the line.” You and I both know it really means, “If you were truly important to us, you would be speaking to a human right now, wouldn’t you?”
When the scheduler at the doctor’s office tells you to come in at 9 a.m. Thursday, it means you’d better pack a lunch, because thirteen other people are also scheduled to see him at 9 a.m. Thursday.
When the highway construction manager says, “We expect to have this project complete by the end of the year,” you are sure to be disappointed on Dec. 31. That’s when he will confess, “Well, we didn’t say WHICH year!”
When the real estate ad describes an old house as “stunning,” that could mean many things. Often I am stunned it is still standing.
When the online hotel ad says, “Our rooms have a rustic flavor, with retro décor,” it really means, “We haven’t changed the carpet or the curtains since 1966. Come to think of it, they might be due for a good cleaning.”
So let’s all pledge to cut down on the lies. As Honest Abe Lincoln once said, “Just because you saw it on TV or the Internet, doesn’t mean it’s true.”
David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor, and his new book “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley” is available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or at RadioTV2020@yahoo.com.