"Wow, I've never seen student housing with closets you can actually fit things in!" -Hillary, Condos of Narnia, Divine Comedy March 2006
Question #1752 posted on 11/29/2003 midnight
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,
Should I repent for lying to a telemarketer? The person was calling representing some sort of windshield glass repair company and they asked if I owned a car. I said "no", when in fact I do have a car, just so I wouldn't have to go through the whole, "No thanks, I'm not interested . . . I understand that, but I'm not interested . . . No thanks . . . Okay . . . I'm hanging up now . . . No thanks . . . I'm not interested . . . *click*" I was talking to my roommate about lying to telemarketers, and she thinks a lie is a lie is a lie. I think that if you lie to a faceless, overbearing, belligerent stranger who wants your money, it's perfectly okay. Was that a sin?
Thanks,
MiMi the banana slug

A: Dear MiMi,

Banana slugs are awesome. Slugs are awesome. Well, they're really ugly. Look like naked snails, you know. But it was pretty awesome in Harry Potter IV where the little kid causes a slug to blow up (expand) with his wand then his mom steps on it and it explodes. Yeah, that was pretty cool.

Anyway . . . hmmm. Technically, a lie is a lie. But I'm willing to rationalize yours. Because by saying "no," what you really meant was "No, I am not interested in your stupid promotion, I'm sorry you have this stupid job, but I'm still not interested and I don't want to waste ten minutes of my life getting off the phone with you. The answer is no. I don't want it." You just saved everyone some time and bad feelings. And besides--who is that bozo, calling and invading your personal life? Why is it his business if you have a car? Can't he just leave you alone?

I use the same rationalization when dealing with telemarketers and people who ask me things that are 1--none of their business, or 2--not my problem. Example: Let's pretend I love taffy. Let's pretend there was a huge sale on taffy a few weeks ago, so I loaded up. I stashed a bunch in a secret location in my bedroom. Since then, I have realized I do not have a spare dime, and I'd certainly better not even think about spending a cent on taffy. Now, if my roommate were to see me chewing on a piece and ask "Hey, do you have any taffy?" I would tell my roommate "No," and I would do so with a perfectly clear conscience. What he meant was "If you have some taffy, I want some. Can I have some?" The answer is "no." Selfish as that may be, I'm broke. Why don't I just explain that to my roommate? Because he will be offended that I don't want to share with him. Don't worry--I'm not always this evil. I have shared *loads* of stuff with my roommates. In the past they have consumed mass quantities of my food, just because I have left it out on the kitchen counter. I've come to expect this, so when I don't want them to eat it, I hide it in my bedroom. Out of sight, out of mind. (Although, I left an entire batch of fries on the stove last night and left to study. Came back--guess what, they'd eaten them all.)

Sure, a lie is a lie. But if your extremely single sister meets an overbearing stranger whom she will be seeing often (at work or something) and he wants to know if she's dating anyone, should she tell him the truth? NO!!! I've watched my friends deal with this before. These men do not go away. They think "I don't have a boyfriend" means "I'm available and if you ask me fifty-seven more times, I'll go out with you, alone, to some restaurant, maybe at like midnight. I'm definitely either your eternal companion or your one-night stand." They *DON'T GIVE UP*. So, to avoid a very messy situation caused by one person being an overbearing jerk and the other person being honest and polite, go ahead. Lie a little. And in the end, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved. . . . But seriously, I think God understands. (No, I don't mean God understands if you lie to your bishop or your boss.)

--Grock, who's going to shut up before he digs himself in any deeper
A: Dear MiMi,

It was a lesser evil to avoid a larger evil--at least that's what I tell myself everytime I do the same thing.

~MinuteMaid
A: Dear MiMi:

Technically, it's still a lie. Not a damnable sin, but a lie nonetheless. Next time a telemarketer calls, use the Junkbusters Script:

http://www.junkbusters.com/script.html

Don't deviate from it. It works very well.

-- The Keeper of A Few Tricks That Annoy Telemarketers
A: Dear MiMi,

I think it's a sin, so yes, I'd say repent. I also hate telemarketers, though, and I don't bother trying to be too polite. I just say "NO, I'm not interested, and I'm hanging up now. Please do not call me again." *click* I think that it's merciful to get off the line ASAP because what if some poor soul really DOES need or want what they're calling for? I'd feel bad if they didn't find them because they wasted time with me...as though that's likely...

-mr. snorkel
A: Dear MiMi,

I've always been a fan of the Seinfeld approach which I will butcher and paraphrase but you get the idea:

"Hello...... Subscription to the New York Times? Um, look, right now's not a very good time. Can I have your home phone number so I can give you a call back later tonight.... Oh, you don't give out that number?...... Ah, you don't like people calling you at home, huh. Well, now you know how I feel." *Click*

§åû®μ$
A: Dear MIMI,

If your a girl ever asks you if she looks fat, do you say yes? What possible circumstance could justify telling a woman that yes, indeed, she has porked out some and maybe she oughta cut down on the ding-dongs? No. Regardless, you say something like, "no! you look totally hot." Is that a lie? Or how about if a little kid asks you about Santa Claus? "Nope, sorry ya little ankle-biter, that's a lie your parents feed to you to get you to behave at least ONE month out of the year..."

I'm not trying to conclusively say what a lie is or isn't (what? Latro without some asinine social commentary in which he aires his opinion as if it is the word and the will handed down from Sinai?), I'm just trying to get everybody thinking outside the box. More like in a triangle...

::: Latro :::
A: Dear MiMi,

Hmm. Telemarketers. Conveniently I am never home when they call me (I'm the only one who gets calls because, conveniently, the phone is in my name). So I told my roommates to make up lots of excuses as to why I am not home at the time and why the telemarketer should not call back. They can be sure that I am NOT interested in buying a new heater or water softener. Nor do I want internet access because I don't live in the same place more than eight months in the year. Is that a lie? It might be if they used the one we made up when they ask for "Mr. or Mrs. (my last name here)" and it goes something like,

"No, Mrs. Fjdklsla isn't home right now. And thank you so much for bringing up the memory of the late Mr. Fjdklsla. You jerk! Mourning all over again!" Or something to that effect.

That one is so ironic considering I'm not even close AT ALL to taking on someone else's last name. I'm glad they automatically assume that everyone is married.

So you tell me, is that a lie? Appearance of evil, yes, but I don't think it's going to hurt anyone except the telemarketer because I wouldn't accept their business. Lying usually digs yourself into a huge hole, but I see no holes with telemarketers. Maybe I'm rationalizing. Whatever.

- Duchess who IS on the "Do Not Call" registry and whose number will take effect in December