All the World's a Polygraph, and We Are All Liars

Repost from the old site.
In reference to the title, one time I when I was working as a linguist, this woman from New York came to work for us. She was a bitch from Day One. She knew it all, and boy did she. She was pissed, and after a bit, I figured it out. She had gotten a BA and here she was, slaving as a secretary. What a failure.
She was a vegetarian, and she when I told her I ate meat, she gave me these dagger eyes and said pointedly, “I know. All meat-eaters smell terrible to us vegans.” It just kind of went on and on like that for some time.
Being an introvert and pretty much of a puss at work (I call this the “office puss” role that men who work in offices must play), I kept on smiling and sucking up to her and trying to be nice. Whenever anyone’s mean to us, we introverts usually figure we fucked up and that’s why they are properly treating us with the contempt, scorn, coldness or indifference we deserve. So I kept trying to act better, and she kept being a bitch.
One day she came to me all apologetic and baffled. “I don’t know what’s wrong,” she shook her head. Turned out I wasn’t the only recipient of her bitch-rays. The whole office was.
“The boss told me that I’m not being nice to people but I just can’t see it. I think I’m nice to everyone but she says everyone says I’m mean. None of this makes any sense to me.”
I’d already figured her out long ago. She was a headstrong, independent type. Within a few weeks of moving from New York to California, she had herself a decent guy and had already moved him in. Good work. Boy, women have it so tough. They can get laid anytime they want. I’m crying so hard for them now I can barely type.
She had the got it together mindset that tended to look down on 90% of the population as fuckups.
And one thing you need to know about angry people is that 95% of the time, 95% of angry people deny their anger and general shittiness, especially when they are beating up on weaker people, which all angry people do. I’m not sure what the psychological mechanism is, but I think it’s important to know this. Ever heard an angry person say, “I’m an asshole but I just can’t stop. I need Assholes Anonymous.”? Course not.
Anyway, she came from New York and brought her New York Bitch attitude with her. Back there, it’s normal. I guess they say, “Have a nice day” the same way we say, “Fuck you.”
She was here to apologize to me for being a bitch, on bosses’ orders under penalty of being fired if not done, though she had done nothing. Would I accept her apology? Sure. Was she being a bitch? Well, yeah, she was, I nodded.
Look, kiddo. I sat down on the curb with her.
This is how you do it. You need to start faking your feelings. I asked her how she felt about her boss and her co-workers. I think she hated the boss, but I’m not sure about the co-workers. She liked me just fine, though she treated me like shit, but she could not see it.
I said, “Look. The boss pisses me off too. And some of these co-workers really piss me off. But I’m not sure if they know it. What do I do? I disguise my feelings. Here is what you do. Go ahead and feel any way you want about your boss and co-workers, but adjust your feelings when you have to actually deal with them.”
“Say you have to go talk to the boss. Forget that you hate her. Walk into the room, smile and act like you love her. Don’t fake it, because that shows. Actually brainwash yourself into thinking she is the greatest boss in the world and believe it as hard as you can.
“Then after you walk out the door, mutter under your breath what a bitch she is. This is what you do. You play roles all the time. I usually don’t show people my true feelings and I’m always putting on some kind of show or other.”
She was dumbstruck.
“You actually do this? How long have you been doing this?”
“Oh, ten years at least, maybe even longer.”
Then she started in about how this was awful as it was not genuine and honest. It was lying. This was horrible and dishonest and probably even ought to be illegal. Anyway, it was immoral. In New York, everyone wears the heart on sleeve, and that’s they are all so ornery. But at least they are moral.
This thing I was arguing, it was so – Californian! To put on a mask, to lie to everyone, to lie all the time, to always be faking it, to never be real.
“Well,” I suggested. “What good is being honest when it gets you fired?”
She did agree that I had a point.
“Look,” I said. “Another thing you can do is save it up. All day long, no matter how much you hate the boss, every time you think of her, think of how actually you really love her and she is the greatest boss on Earth.”
“At 5:03 PM, as you are pulling onto the highway to drive home, you may begin cursing the evil boss. If need be, you may curse, swear and pound upholstery all the way home. But the next day at work, you put all that away, walk in the door to the greatest boss on Earth again.”
She acted like this was really evil, but I suggested it was better than getting your ass fired. She nodded humbly. She asked me if I did this at work. All the time, I assured her.
Then she went on her way.
Every time she saw me after that, she was always smiling at me and had this really weird look on her face, like she was looking at me trying to figure out what I really thought of her or what in God’s name was going on in my head.
It’s the way you look at some weird object when you can’t figure out what the heck it is, turning it over, poking around at it, putting it up close and then far away, showing it around.
I was a walking fucking enigma.
I’d given her the evil secret of being a 24-7 liar, but at least it was keeping her ass off the curb.

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3 thoughts on “All the World's a Polygraph, and We Are All Liars”

  1. What you say has a lot of truth. When I talk about things, the things I say are about the most lacking in guile or alternate meanings as they could possibly be. As far as life and friendships have gone, my health was very bad for quite a long time. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and it’s really true. Most of the things I’ve learned have been the product of necessity, even if they’ve since taken on a depth and life of their own and aren’t about that anymore. Anyway, I haven’t been much of a friend to the people I respect, but I feel like the things I say are misinterpreted sometimes (when I’ve been communicating the same things to other people for as long as I can remember). I don’t think much of this world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about people in it. Making sarcastic statements just isn’t something I do, and my more unconventional statements or modes of communication are only for one purpose. But I know what you’re saying about the way there’s a need to be more conscious of one’s communication in other venues.

    1. There’s really no need to communicate to people exactly what you think of them. I’m mostly just interested in “getting through this interaction with this other human.” So if I go to the coffee shop, the drug store, wherever, I’m just interested in having a pleasant interaction here and moving on.
      Even if I basically hate the person, lol. I mean, even if I hate them, why show it? What’s it going to accomplish? If I show it, they’re just going to get mad back at me and they might make my experience unpleasant in some way. There are all sorts of things people can do to get back at you.
      I don’t understand why we need to show others what we feel about them all the time. What for? What’s important is getting through this particular interaction in as smooth a way as possible.
      Anyway, even if I hate them or don’t like them, what good will it do to show them that? Are they going to quit doing whatever they’re doing that’s pissing me off? Are they going to look all hurt and say, “What did I do wrong? Why are you mad at me? Please like me.” If they would, maybe it might make sense to act hostile towards them.
      But no one ever does that. I act hostile to them, they act shitty right back, nothing solved, plus I just had an unpleasant interaction for no good reason. Even sometimes when I say, “You know what? You’re pissing me off lately and here is exactly how and why.” It never seems to do any good.
      Mostly people just get their back up and say screw you if you don’t like it, I’m not changing, and I don’t care if I’m pissing you off, I hate you too so there.
      Now what was the point of that?
      Human interactions are like traffic or weather or any number of things. Weather’s bad, will getting mad help? Traffic jam, should I get out of the car and scream? No and no.
      In bad weather, you think, “How can I maneuver through this bad weather with the least problems?” In a traffic jam, you think, “Ok, now how can I maneuver my way through this traffic mess in the easiest and simplest manner?”
      Same thing with human interactions, pretty much.

  2. I agree. I know a lot of people for whom “honesty” means telling others what you think of them, your embarassing habits, and a ton of other things no one needs or wants to know. My view: You can either live your life, or you can piss other people off and fight all the time. If that’s what you enjoy, than to each his own. But I choose to live my life. And that doesn’t mean fighting with and justifying myself to a******s. Anyway, that’s what the internet is for.

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