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You can tell white lies all you want. But don’t expect to be trusted also. I have been standing right near people, in the library, in the grocery store, the sidewalk – you name it – and overheard statements like: “Yeah, I’m in the car, I’m on the way home.” Or, “I’m sorry! What do you want me to do? There’s traffic!”

I just stare in disbelief. I think to myself, these might be the same people who insist they “tried reaching you” (ie. thought about it, or dialed once and hung up.) Or, when confronted about a topic they’d rather avoid might say, “What on earth are you talking about?” or “Sorry, it’s a bad connection – yeah, no, what? I can’t hear you.”

It’s a free country, and you can white-lie your way through life if you wish.

But here is a little secret.

People are more discerning than you may realize.

People pick up patterns.

People sense whose word is gold, and whose words are worthless.
There are a few times when a white lie is permissible. Suppose you have chosen to take the blame for a mistake in order to protect someone else. That’s usually allowed. But even then, you have to choose your words ultra-carefully so that you are not outright lying.

My own mother once did that for me. I was probably seven or eight years old, and the ceramic soap dish attached to the shower wall in my grandparents’ home, broke right off the wall, into my hand!

Okay, I think I recall swinging from it, but it was part of the wall, for heaven’s sake. It wasn’t supposed to fall off!

Anyway, my grandmother was a perfect housekeeper and would have been very, very upset about it. I confided to my mother that I was really, really scared, and my mother understood that I felt genuine remorse and would never attempt that again.

She also knew that I would most definitely have gotten into trouble had I paraded downstairs with that soap dish in my hand! Or as soon as my grandmother saw the very obvious void in the wall.

My mother, who never, ever lied about anything went downstairs, holding the offending item in her hand.

“I’m sorry,” I heard her saying. I forget the exact words that followed, but she somehow implied that she broke it.

I could not believe my ears!

“You saved my life!” I breathed gratefully when she returned upstairs. Please note: When things break by an adult, everyone assumes the thing was loose anyway, so my mother was not reprimanded of course.

That did not teach me to start telling white lies, believe me.

When a scrupulously honest person does something like that, all you can do is marvel in awe.

From my mother, I learned that one may not even call collect, then using coded messages in place of the name “Ich darf a…” (I need a…) or “Anachnu Po” (we’re here), in order not to have to make the call recipient pay for the call.

She would accept the call, tell us she understood (with a chuckle in her voice), and then hang up.

From my father I learned that if you spend a lot of time browsing in a tiny store where every customer gets the owner’s hopes up, buy something small, even if you don’t need it.

From a story of a tzadik, I learned that sending off a headcount of students to a government office had to be so accurate, the number was double-checked right before mailing.

And I trust the kind of people who say things like, “I must apologize, we got a late start today. I may miss the event, please start without me.”

And the kind of people who say, “I really should have called you earlier, I got distracted. Please forgive the delay.”

People appreciate honesty.

And even when you have to white-lie, make sure you have a very, very good reason, and that you choose your words with care so as not to misrepresent the truth one iota more than necessary.

Speaking of lies, advertising today has become almost synonymous with Little White Lies.

Here are a few examples: Cereal: Kids Love It! So do Moms! (Because you told moms it’s healthy when it’s actually “fortified” with sugar or corn syrup). Health Insurance: We care about you and your family! (But sorry, your specialist is out-of-network, your kid’s medicine is not covered, and we don’t care about your teeth – at all. The people smiling on our billboard have private insurance.)

Enter Florida Kosher Villas – True to their word in every way.

This kosher vacation rental company called Florida Kosher Villas, is honest, accurate and truly stands behind their word. Not only are the photos true representations of each home and all its amenities, but hundreds of customers rave about Florida Kosher Villas exceeding all their expectations!

Advertising like that is meaningful. Advertising like that is trusted. No white lies. No inaccurate embellishments! No “stretching the truth”.

The real deal. True blue. I’m just keeping you entertained while you look for your cell phone.

Call them today!

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