This week in podclub we listened an episode of This American Life. I'm going to go ahead and admit that even though my sister has told me how wonderful this podcast is, this is only the second one i've listened too. I'm not sure why. Maybe the name made it sound like it would be boring. I thought it would be like an audio version of the readers digest. I guess it has similarities since they both tell stories, but I was glad that this gave me another reason to listen because I really enjoyed it. This one is called getting away with it, and made me think of all the times I've managed to get away with things. I wouldn't consider any of them huge, in fact most of them are the day to day things we all do. I feel like I'm a honest person, but just like everyone else I won't tell people their hair is hideous, or their shoes are ugly and don't match, or whatever. If asked, I will say,I don't outright lie. I either find something I do like to comment on or I say something vague, and immediately ask another question to divert their attention. I guess i've gotten pretty good at lying by omission so I don't have to actually say things that aren't true. But I do, if it comes down to it, in the heat of the moment, I can't say I've never lied and I definitely won't say I never will again.
While I listened to this podcast I tried to think of some of the bigger things that i've gotten away with. I'm sure to some they'd seem like pretty small things but to me it was huge and getting away with it was an amazing feeling. The thing that always stopped me from doing it more was the fear that came before, I never thought it was worth the risk of getting caught.
Probably the biggest thing I ever got away with was in high school when I was a grader in physics and graded my own tests. Even the final. I was so bad at physics and I was so scared of getting a low grade in anything. I would sit there grading my tests and when I came across something that I knew but just messed up on the test, I'd change it to the right answer. I felt like since I really knew the answer it wasn't a huge lie. I never changed anything I had no clue on. (Don't worry I think even then there was a voice I was ignoring that was telling me to stop lying to myself because I was definitely cheating). Our teacher was actually really nice, I even talked him into a higher grade one time when we had a test we graded in class, because the question was confusing. He made the final test huge, but it was an open note test. I had tons of notes. I thought I would be fine. The problem was that I didn't understand the questions. Even those confused me like no other class had done in my life. I knew I'd done horribly, but I waited around for everyone to finish so I could start grading. I wasn't suppose to grade my own, but the other grader was a friend, and since we sat in the grading room together we agreed that we would grade our own and no one needed to know. I think my true grade was a low C, but I made it a B (I knew A would be too obvious if he happened to look at anything else I'd done all year). I remember sitting there doing it, not afraid that I would be caught, but just feeling so guilty because this was straight up cheating, and I could think of no way to justify it even to myself. I just knew I did not want the feeling of telling people I got anything less than a B. I still feel bad about this, if I could, I'd go back and let myself know its not worth it, and that the grades I got that year won't make any difference because I was too much of a slacker my freshman year and there was no coming out of it.
There was another time that came to mind, I actually enjoyed and didn't feel bad for at all. I think I was maybe 13 or 14. My sisters and some of their friends wanted to go to an R rated movie. I'm the youngest but my older sister Rachael was also (barely) underage, but we went anyway and I think we had a plan that if anyone asked one of the older ones would say they were our legal guardians. At that point I was my full height of 5'8" and had been told I looked older than my age. I went in first and breezed through. They barely looked at me. I stood next to the counter thinking Rachael would have no problem, but watched as they asked for her ID and her friend had to employ our cover story. She glared at me the whole time. I was just afraid they'd have second thoughts about me and wanted to run the other direction. I tried to look inconspicuous but I'm sure my face was red and its a good thing no one spoke to me because I don't think I could have gotten a word out. They finally let her through, and we got away with it. The relief, and excitement was huge. She was so mad at me for getting through unscathed but I barely felt it. Not only had I gotten away with it but I'd basically been told I look older than my big sister. I was at an R-rated movie that I shouldn't be at with my older sisters and their friends, and for a moment I actually felt like I belonged.
I think we all have stories like this, where we've gotten away with something and it either turned out to be an adventure or its something we wish we could undo. I think sometimes to lie is the cowards way out and other times it actually takes massive amounts of bravery. Maybe thats how we know when its ok. Though, how do we know which is which unless we can be honest with ourselves...