At Least Lie Better

In Taiwan…in Asian culture…people will lie to you in order to avoid confrontation. Nothing is uglier to the Taiwanese than an insult. In order to avoid any sort of verbal offense, to maintain social harmony, a Taiwanese will tell you a story that makes absolutely no sense.

Most of the time it’s harmless.
They’ll compliment you on your clothes when they think you’re dressed like a homeless junkie.

Sometimes it’s rather disingenuous.
They’ll tell you that you’re doing a great job when they’re already hunting for your replacement.

Other times – commonly as cover for something they KNOW is just wrong – it’s absolutely nuts.
“Why did you kill my dog?”
“Because it was raining.”

It simply doesn’t add up, but you are left with only two options:
(A) Call them a liar…an imbecile. Point out the inherent nonsense / contradiction.
(B) Accept the nonsense. Your dog is dead. Get over it.

Trust me. Calling them a liar ain’t gettin’ you anywhere. It will only make things worse.

The problem, at least once you get used to it, isn’t the lie itself. It’s that the lie – the fictitious justification they invent for fucking you over, presumes on its face that you’re dumber than a stump.

“Wait a second. You’re lying to me in order to justify some shitty, sneaky, wrongheaded shit, and THAT’S the best lie you can come up with? An obvious falsehood…something that cannot, almost by definition, be true? Do you think I’m THAT stupid?”

It’s like they can’t be bothered to tell you a decent lie – an extra sprinkle of Go Fuck Yourself. As if they can’t be bothered making up something logically consistent for your insignificant ass.
They’re lying. You know they’re lying. They know you know they’re lying. There’s nothing you can do about it. If you point out the obvious, you will never be friends.
No matter how obvious and egregious the falsehood, it remains utterly forbidden to point it out.
“How DARE you call me liar!”

There are survival lessons to be learned from this.
If your boss ever approaches you with a new idea – a suggestion on how to change / improve your teaching – and that idea is obviously stupid, insane, backward, costly, impossible and ridiculous, you must say, “Great idea!”
Promise to implement the great idea immediately, praise your boss and wonder aloud why you didn’t think of it yourself.
Then go about your business as before.
When your boss asks how the new idea is working out, say, “Great! It has improved everything 100%.”
Then continue going about your business as before.

I have personally experienced such madness on many occasions.
Once, I had a principal come into my classroom and insist that I use more different color markers on the white board. She advised me that the addition of blue and green to my arsenal would vastly improve the learning experience. In her view, black and red were limiting the academic performance of her charges.
I wasn’t stupid enough to say she was a blithering idiot to her face, but I was stupid enough to suggest something like that in front of the students. Note: Your students are RATS. They will turn you over faster than a Crazy Eddie’s Factory Carpet Outlet Going Out of Business Sale.

On another occasion, I had a supervisor interrupt a high school Phys. Ed. class in order to instruct me not to make the children run.
I was stunned at the sheer stupidity of it, but not stunned into silence. As the comedian Ron White says, “I had the right to remain silent, but I did not have the ability.”
I made the mistake of trying to reason with her. “It’s physical education. Exercise. Sports. Running is part of the curriculum.”
I don’t recall if I made it to the end of that week or not, but I wasn’t there on Monday.

In any event, the fact remains. You are going to be lied to, and you must never, under any circumstances, suggest that the idea is not a work of pure genius; that another approach might be better; that there are a plethora of perfectly good reasons why they must have their head jammed up their ass to even consider such a course of action. Doing so will only result in your being fired because it’s raining.

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4 Responses

  1. Very true. It never ceased to amaze me how even the most ridiculous forms of dishonesty and insincerity were acceptable to a lot of people in Taiwan, or at least were deemed preferable to crazy things like (gasp!) an argument based on facts or (gasp!) not telling someone what they wanted to hear.

    As you know, I was once a Mormon missionary in Taiwan (ah, to be stupid again!). You can imagine how much “fun” the dishonesty factor was for us missionaries. When people decided they no longer wanted to talk to us (a common occurrence), they would rarely admit it. They would just give us bullshit stories about being “busy,” hand us fake addresses or fake phone numbers, or “forget” to be home whenever we had an appointment with them. Ah, the joys of being someone that almost nobody wants to talk to! 🙂

    Speaking of which, have you made good on your threat to start punching anyone who tries to convert the youngsters?

    • Haven’t seen any Elders accosting children since the incident. I doubt I’ll punch them. I prefer shaking their faith with logic.

  2. lol. So true.

    I once got a note at a school I worked at:
    “In order to keep the students from jumping out the windows, please keep the curtains shut.”

    Well not exactly that, but the Chinglish version of it. Turns out, only one of the school’s buildings was legally registered. The building I was in wasn’t. Hence the note and the nonsensical lie.

  3. I’d actually prefer it if all lies were that easily identifiable as lies.

    The worst kind of lie is the lie that you believe to be true.

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