News Flash: Karen’s Dad Not Saint as Implied

Uh oh! Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Uh oh!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

I think we all realize that it’s sometimes best to say nothing, rather than blurt out the truth. Others’ assumptions about what is not said can sometimes work to our disadvantage, but there are a few times when those work to our definite advantage.

After my dad read my previous post, “Damnit Daddy!” where I mentioned how he had always been to work on time, I received a news flash. Apparently, in his early days at US Steel, he was late once. Yes, I know. I didn’t believe it at first either. His exact words were, “Well, I was late one time. And I remember it.”  Really, Daddy? Well, now you’re just rubbing it in my face, making a mockery of my time management skills. Wait – I guess I do that all by myself. His admission, while very telling of his absolute commitment to being on time, all the time, also reinforces the fact that there are some things that we should just keep to ourselves.

One morning during a time when my dad was still on probation at his place of work, he woke up late. He was supposed to be there at 7 am. As soon as he opened his eyes, he wondered why he had awakened early, but then panicked as he turned to look at the clock, and realized that the alarm had not gone off.  The alarm clock was on my mother’s side of the bed, so she always set it for them; for some reason, she had not, and now it was the very late hour of 6:55 am.

He flew out of bed and paced around the room, wondering what to do.  Should he claim to be sick? Cry power outage? He picked up the phone, hesitated for a moment, and dialed the supervisor, still not knowing how he would explain his impending lateness.

“Hot strip, Olly speaking.”

“Hey, Olly, this is Keith,” my dad said, trying to disguise his morning voice and heavy, nervous breathing.

“Hey, Keith.”

“Uh, look, I know I’m supposed to be there at 7,” he said and paused, “but my wife….” And he caught himself. Before he told his supervisor a sob story about how his WIFE had forgotten to set the alarm. Dear lord, I can’t say that, he thought, he’ll think I’m a total sad, spineless sack of a man!

Olly paused briefly, and then laughed nervously. “Oh. OH! Yeah, yeah, Keith, it’s okay. You just get here when you can. You’re… you’re not in any trouble, just… just… uh, get here when you can.”

My dad hung up the phone, took a shower, and raced to work.  For the rest of the day, supervisors kept stopping to “see how he was doing.” He kept quiet, not sure what exactly was happening, but just solemnly saying “yeah” when they asked if he was okay.

You see what happened here, don’t you?  His supervisor thought something had happened to his wife, so when he actually showed up to work, only late, they were actually impressed that he came in.  He eventually realized that day that his omission of the truth might have saved his job, so he acted brave, just nodding stoically when anyone asked.

Take this a lesson for yourself, friends. When you don’t have the best answer to give, try a non-answer. Let people assume what they will.  If they assume something other than what you had hoped, they will probably ask you to clarify. If your wife asks, “Do these pants make my butt look big?” you can simply answer, “I like those pants.”  Or just give her a look that says, Really, could anything make your butt look big? The truth is not always necessary, and sometimes it is better not to tell it.