Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I've Never Been Very Good at Lying (or hiding the truth)

This week we received some mail from the John Labatt Centre that looked like tickets. The problem was that it was addressed not to us, but the former residents of the house. We always roll our eyes at the fact that they haven't changed their address on things, but usually it is the understandable flyers or other things you might 'conveniently' forget to report an address change to. Why you would order tickets to an event and not make sure they were to your current address is beyond me. Perhaps they have an account and haven't ordered anything from there since they moved. I would imagine you would double check, but what do I know.

Anyways, this brought up the moral dilemma of what to do about this? We don't know their new address or what the tickets are for or anything like that. We're sick of writing 'moved' on a piece of mail every other day. Also, we have a hint of feeling like it's their fault for not paying attention when they ordered. Plus, when you've never met someone (it's another story on how that came about) there is no personal feeling attached to the name you see. In this case, we decided to open the tickets so we'd have the reference number and any other information and call the place to report we had received them by error. I would say this decision was about 95% good nature and 5% fueled by the vision of appearing at the event and awkwardly encountering the people at their seats that they had re-acquired the tickets for; or more likely getting all ready for the event and being told at the door that the tickets were invalid, due to the people calling and wondering the whereabouts of the tickets and the ensuing ones making these null and void.

This all reminded me of another story from when I was younger (maybe 12? 13?), a story I had actually thought about randomly just recently.

I was always the first home when I got home after school, my parents both working and my sister usually doing things with friends or at school. As this was the case, I always took the mail inside and left it on the table. I was a bit nosy when it came to things that were not simple white envelopes, so it certainly piqued my interest when a larger package from National Geographic arrived one day. It was addressed to the previous house owner who hadn't lived there for at least 6 or 7 years and I couldn't even recall the last time they had received mail. In my head I thought that if they really cared about stuff like this, they would have put in their new address. Also, I thought it wouldn't be much of a harm to take a peek to see what it is, most likely it would be some sort of sales pitch.

To my surprise and giddy delight, there was a nice, shiny binder with animals on the cover and three laminate-style sheets inside with a different animal on each one and one card with a table of contents showing which cards made up the whole set. Each page contained a photo of the said animal, along with a whole bunch of information about their habitat, locale, diet, etc. I thought it was very interesting and again, since they had just sent it unprompted, it would be no harm to keep it. Packed in with the binder was an order card that said 'Would you like to order the next cards in the set?' Of course, I was thinking DEFINITELY!!!! Thinking that if it was a real issue, they would ask for money or not send the new ones, I sent the form back (no stamp was needed) and checked the box for wanting more.

So, the pages kept coming. I would get the three new cards every month or so in the mail and check off the box saying I wanted the next ones in the set and send the card back in the mail. I was almost always the one checking the mail, so I always opened up the cards on my own, nobody else ever even seeing these packages to think anything of it. Over time, I had not even thought about it being wrong anymore, since they just kept sending them. It wasn't even as if I was hiding the cards, it was just a coincidence that I was the first one home to retrieve the mail and would then put the cards neatly away in their binder (which again, was stored on a shelf in my room, not something that would necessarily flag anyone's attention). I suppose one might wonder why I never mentioned the binder to my parents if I was so excited and thought nothing was wrong? I suppose, subconsciously, I did know and that part of my brain controlled the part of me that would run to them telling them I was excited about getting a new piece of a cool book that National Geographic was mysteriously sending me without ever receiving any money for it.

Then one day a letter came from them that I either didn't notice, or I wasn't the one to get it. I can't say which it was, because frankly I don't remember. What I do remember was my mother asking me 'What do you know about information card orders from National Geographic?' At which point my face when blank and unmoving, my eyes likely opening widely and my pupils dilating, possibly with the addition of an open mouth waiting for the words to arrive at my lips. Those words never arrive, and that day was no exception. I always panic when caught in a lie and can never come up with the thing to say to cover my ass before my face gives me away.

After that, all I really remember is that my mom was very upset with me. What happened to the book I can't be sure. Some time not long after that, my house burned down and the book was gone for good, if it was even there at that point. She might have sent it back, but knowing my mom she probably paid for it and apologized to the people, simultaneously being mad at me for a while. Also, if I had to guess, I lost interest in the book, having read all of the cards enough and the whole experience lost the excitement of danger.

I don't know what made me remember that story, but it was very amusing that I was thinking of it days before reliving it as an adult (though in a much lesser scale, in which we played both the children and the adults).

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