I wish it was easy to speak your mind, say what you want, without worrying about the consequences. Just speak the truth and everything will be fine. Well, it's not really like that. Unfortunately, life isn't like that at all. It's just not so easy.
You see, the trouble with speaking your mind is, it gets you in trouble. When people know what you really think, they start judging you right away. "Oh, well if that's what you think..." and so on. That's why people rarely say what's on their mind, even if it's the truth.
That's why people lie all the time. You just can't say what you really think, so you have to make something up. It doesn't always have to be bad, it could be something relatively harmless like, "Oh that's a nice perfume you're wearing..." No, it smells like your dog took a piss in your baby powder, take it off now. See what I mean?
You also have to lie just to survive. If you're applying for a job and your boss asks you if you work well with others, "Sure, I love other people!", you better play by the rules and not say what you really think. "As long as they leave me alone, I'll be just fine." Yeah, try saying that in real life.
It's a damn shame we have to lie in our society. Even children do it and NO, it's not innate. Children learn to lie, from their parents, from their peers, from everybody they look up to. They do it to protect themselves from guilt and to get out of being in trouble.
Mommy says, "Oh no, you spilled milk all over the place! You're such a messy child!".
The child answers, "No, Mommy, it wasn't me. It was the dog that made me do it".
Mommy then says, "Oh, it's okay sweetie! Bad dog!"
As she scolds the helpless puppy who only licked up the spilled milk. Poor puppy. The child knows they have escaped this episode of guilt and shame by putting the blame on others, even those totally blameless. Like I said, it's a messed up society we live in.
But what if there was someone who always told the truth? Someone who couldn't lie no matter what? You may say someone like that doesn't exist but what if I told you someone like that did? Would you believe me? I'm not lying! Okay, maybe a little... Truth is, nobody really cares.
Sorry, let me start at the beginning and tell you the whole story. It's a damn shame what happened after... But I'll get to that later.
They all said it started with the accident. She was in a bad car accident, some guy driving while talking on a cell phone rammed right into her, spun her car around the freeway and she hit her head real bad on the side of the car window, smashed it all the way through. When her car hit the rail, she must've had her neck snapped or something, 'cause she was wearing a neck brace for close to three months.
I had seen her around town before that happened. She often visited the local coffee shop and would sit there for hours, writing stories then typing them on her computer. She told me she always used the free WiFi, since she didn't have internet access at home. Nice kid, quiet though, wouldn't talk much. Then after the accident she was completely different.
She came in once, wearing her neck brace, and someone was with her, probably someone from a home-care place. She ordered a drink and just before she was going to pay for it she muttered something. I heard the word, "disgusting".
The girl at the register said, "What?"
It must've been the neck brace 'cause I still couldn't quite hear what she said then she yelled it out, "Your ear plugs are disgusting!"
The girl said nothing but the woman's helper made some excuse, something about "the drugs". The woman who I knew to never say a thing like that, left with her drink. Truth is, I agreed with her, those ear plugs kids wear these days are quite disgusting. But the girl at the register had been wearing them before and this normally quiet woman had never said a word.
I've heard of people changing after an accident. Either the trauma shakes them up or the head injury does it too. I've heard of one guy whose personality totally changed, from a nice normal athletic type to a secretive creep who started beating his girlfriend. People with post traumatic stress disorder also suffer from these personality changes, especially those coming back from the war. I just figured this woman's personality change was temporary, that she would get better later. But she didn't. She got worse.
It's a small town and I like to talk to people. I know just about everybody here. I talked to someone who's girlfriend was that woman's helper. She said it was a nightmare. The woman would just blurt out whatever she felt like, even if it was totally rude, like how her perfume stank and her tattoos made her look like a whore. Basically, insulting her the whole time. But the thing is, when the helper finally asked her to stop, the woman couldn't understand why she was so upset. The woman was totally clueless as to what she was saying and she didn't know her comments were hurtful and rude.
You've heard of Tourette's syndrome, right? Well, it turned out this woman had something similar only instead of blurting out obscenities, she would blurt out the truth. When most people would hide what they thought in a white lie or 'beat around the bush' she came out and said what no one else would say. Trouble is, no one wanted to hear the truth.
When she got better physically she went to a city council meeting, about water usage. They were raising the water rates over a period of time but hardly anyone in the public knew about it since they didn't exactly make the announcement on a bullhorn. But she wrote to the paper about it and came to the meeting. Boy, oh boy! Did that cause an upset...
I was there, since I'm on the Water Conservation Board and I heard everything she said when she went up to the microphone to speak. She said, "None of you have the capacity to understand this situation that requires a thorough study of water-usage, infrastructure, and distribution." Yes, she said that! I never said she was stupid and apparently the accident didn't impair her intellect, just her judgement. "Your excuse for raising water rates is unfounded and unnecessary..." It sounded great for a minute but then it got worse. Two minutes into her speech she said some stuff she really shouldn't have.
"You're an ignorant over-ambitious political climber who has no business sitting on the city council seat..." She said to one conservative guy.
Then she started in on the liberal woman. "You have no experience in city council matters. You're a sycophant who hides behind a smile when in fact you're hiding your own stupidity-"
"Excuse me?" The woman squealed out.
It just got worse and worse. Finally, her three minutes were up and she sat back down again.
There was a moment of silence while the Mayor tried to regain his composure. "We're not here to hear insults or derogatory comments about how we run things. We're here to hear about public matters and the public's comments. Now I encourage those who want to speak to remember why we're here."
But the woman wouldn't stop talking. She kept insulting the city council and then started in on the rest of the people in the chamber. They had to take her out of the meeting and escort her outside.
All of what she said was true though... even if she shouldn't have said it. She wasn't angry, she just said what was on her mind. Never did she raise her voice in anger the whole time. She spoke calmly. It was a bit eerie to say the least.
Well, they did raise the water rates, even after I presented my case about how the city should re-asses its water usage and not put the charge on its citizens when it had plenty of money in their own coffers to spend on pork barrel projects like that ridiculous iron sculpture in the downtown city plaza that cost one million to put up. Oh well, that's what you get for telling the truth.
But back to the woman...
She was interviewed a few times in the paper after that happened, and she kept showing up at public events and to speak. Trouble is, like I said, no one wanted to hear the truth. At one event, some rally to legalize pot, some other woman got so sick of her that she grabbed the mic away and asked, "Who's side are you on?"
"I take no sides, I only speak the truth." That was what she said! I was there. That other woman, the one who organized the rally, wouldn't let her speak again.
But I went up to her and asked, "So what do you think about legalizing pot?"
She answered like she always did, truthfully. "It should not be for recreational use."
I thought that was fair, even if it wasn't the point of the rally, or what the other pro-pot people wanted. Her expression never changed the whole time. She was calm and placid, almost emotionless. Then I asked her, "What compels you to speak about these issues?"
She thought for a minute then said, "I want to try to help." It was simple enough but then I asked her what she thought of the pro-pot people. What she said threw me off completely.
"They're ignorant. They want their problems to go away. They suffer what people with alcohol problems suffer. I don't approve of their use of pot."
"Then you don't like them?" I asked.
"No." She said. I nodded, still not understanding her motives or why she would get involved if she didn't like those sort of people. She walked off but I stayed for a while at the rally.
Yeah, it was true. Most of the pro-pot people in this small college town were the loser type, young kids who didn't want to work and just wanted their problems to disappear with no effort on their part. The other half of the pro-pot movement were from the baby-boomer generation like myself, still in love with the notion that you can change your government for the better. That the old 'free-love' days weren't really gone.
Here I am getting lost in my thoughts when I should be telling you the really weird part that happened.
I guess when you're always telling the truth, you have no reason to lie. For the rest of us we're oblivious to all the lies that make the world go 'round, we just take it for granted. But what would happen if you saw the world for what it really is? Without all the lies? In other words, you operate on a totally different level. That's what she was doing, I think, when the weird stuff happened. When she started predicting stuff... Oh I'm not saying she was psychic or anything. I'm just saying that when she said something would happen, it did. Nothing like the weather, like, "It's 'gonna rain now" or anything like that. When I think back on it, she wasn't predicting anything at all, she was just stating the obvious. For example, you place a glass at the edge of a wobbly table and bump into it, it's 'gonna fall. That's what she did.
When they were cutting the big huge elm trees downtown, she stood on the street corner and watched the whole event. I work at the local newspaper periodical downtown and I saw her there. I mentioned they were going to put in a roundabout for the road, supposedly to slow down traffic at the busy and dangerous intersection.
Then she spoke, "They can't." I just said it was inevitable but she disagreed. "They won't be able to. The sinkholes will have to be filled in and the gas pipes can't be moved."
I don't know how she knew this at first or if she had studied the local infrastructure (maybe for that city council meeting, perhaps?) but it turned out she was right. When they cut the trees and ripped out the roots, the whole sidewalk on that part of the street collapsed. There was a sinkhole and the tree roots had been the only thing holding the concrete together after the roots had grown into it. When they tried to repair the sinkhole, they found a whole other network of gas pipes they apparently didn't know about. It caused a big scare and the big shots from PG&E had to come in to make sure another one of those major 'gas-pipe-blasts' didn't happen. The whole block was shut down and the two banks on the corner were ordered to evacuate and cease operations at those branches temporarily.
What they ended up doing was re-directing one street so that you could only go one way on it, thus preventing it from joining the intersection. Let me tell you, the local businesses were NOT happy about that and neither were the locals who had trouble finding a place to park for the local farmer's market. They put a time limit on Flume St. so that you could only use it during 'off-commute' times but of course, everyone paid no attention to this. It's hard enough telling the college kids not to ride their bikes on the wrong side of the road, imagine trying to tell a whole neighborhood, "Sorry, you can't drive through here anymore. You'll just have to go around." Yeah, right.
So, right now you're saying that she must've studied the whole city's infrastructure in order to know what was going to happen. Maybe. But I don't think so. See, even those PG&E people didn't know about those gas pipes and the city contractors had no record before the 1980's about that whole system. They didn't even know about the sink hole! Turns out, there's a whole bunch of sink holes and tunnels in this town. Some of them supposedly dug by Chinamen in the 1800's who used to live on Flume St. and Orient, back when they were segregated away from the white people. So how did she know about that? I wish I could've found out. It would've made a great story.
Before her accident she would contribute to the paper. Some of the writing she did was really great. But after the accident, she couldn't write anymore. Don't get me wrong, she could write about facts and figures, but she was absolutely objective. She couldn't take even a hint of subjective prospective and I noticed this when she tried to write a column on the local artists in town. It was so dry. Totally different from her previous writings. She used to be a poet and had several poems published in the paper. But after the accident it had all changed.
I told her politely that maybe she could do the police reports instead. Then she looked into my eyes and said, "You're just trying to be nice. You think my writing is dry and it's not as good as before."
I made up some excuse like, "You should take it easy after your accident" or something stupid.
But she saw through all that. "I don't like it when people lie to me."
I've never forgotten that. The way she said it was not angry, but blunt, like "The sky is blue." No emotion, just fact. Then I asked her something personal. "How does it make you feel when people lie to you?" Just call me, Dr. Freud.
Then she answered, "It makes me feel sick". She added, "I don't understand why people lie".
"Well, I wasn't trying to make you feel bad. I just... I don't think you can write those other assignments anymore. But you can write other stuff." I tried to tell her truthfully without hurting her feelings but I don't think she took it very well.
"Thank you but I don't want to write anymore." Her face was calm, not angry, not hurt or anything. Just that blank stare but her eyes knew the truth. Her eyes could look right through you, like she was reading your mind.
That was another thing, her face hardly changed during that time. And I heard from other people that she never laughed that time either. She didn't cry, she didn't laugh and she didn't smile. Now you're saying she must've been Autistic or something. But she wasn't. I talked to one of her family members and they said she was never Autistic. Before the accident, she had been perfectly normal (whatever counts for normal these days) and she had laughed, cried and been upset before. But it was the accident that changed her.
I'm sure there are all sorts of diagnoses that could explain her behavior. They did try to help her. She went to a lot of doctors, psychiatrists, specialists, etc. They couldn't find anything wrong with her, did a brain scan and everything, but nothing wrong except for her changed behavior. She had trouble after that though and I heard from other people how hard it was for her to adjust to the new situation.
She couldn't find a job because she was too honest in the interview, her bosses found it a liability that she always told the truth and wouldn't censor her comments, they couldn't risk a possible conflict in the workplace. She had to quit volunteering with children because when they asked her questions, she answered truthfully, not trying to soften the answers like adults always do with children. So when the children's parents complained to the program, she wasn't allowed to go back. She also quit the other volunteer job she had after she told someone truthfully that she didn't want to be physically touched and that it bothered her. She moved in with her family but had trouble after she told all her family members what she really thought about them.
Then they put her on medication.
All this I heard from other people. I knew about her problems with her family because I was called in by them to do a story on it, to publish in the paper. They thought it would help if other people knew what they were going through, in case someone else had a similar problem. But I was told by the senior editor not to publish the story, since it was too subjective. This was one of the few times I was told not to publish a story I had done and I always regretted listening to that guy. He retired shortly after but when I became editor, I had so many things to do that this story went into the drawer and I never had time to bring it back out again.
I've seen her around town though. Wandering the streets, looking like a lost traumatized victim. Yeah, I'm being serious! After they put her on medication, it didn't help. She got worse...
They couldn't stand her telling the truth all the time, so they shut her up. They shut her up with medication. Now it's screwed up her brain, she can't even tell what's real and what isn't. She mumbles aloud, talking to people who aren't there and cries a lot. I saw in the downtown coffee shop and she just broke down, in front of everybody, literally just collapsed on the ground in tears. She couldn't handle it anymore. I offered to take her outside and she followed me. Then she told me her story. It's just too bad what happened...
Trouble is, when she started talking I couldn't tell if she was being serious or just making it up. She said the devil was after her and he was using all these people to get to her. She had always known the devil existed but she couldn't prove it, they wouldn't let her, since they worked for him. She had been abused as a child by her own mother, who was an alcoholic. She could see people who were invisible, they were real, more real than the people around her. She didn't trust anyone. She said she thought she had seen the devil on the street corner once. It scared her terribly, she started praying after that and going to church. She likes church and the people are nice. She hates church and the people are secretive and talk behind her back. She can't talk to her family because they lie to her. She wishes she could talk to her family about all that's happened to her. But they won't listen. They don't believe her.
Every time she takes the meds, she feels tired, her mind gets all groggy and she can't think straight. She told me that. She often forgets to take her meds or she doesn't want to.
"I'd rather be insane and real," she explained, "than be sane and not real." She asked if I knew what she meant and I nodded, not really knowing what she was talking about it. I mean, I guess I knew what she was saying, she didn't like being on meds.
But maybe that's not what she meant, 'cause then she said, "I don't like it when people lie to me." She got up and wandered off across the street, toward the downtown plaza, where all the other lost and homeless people were.
I sat there wondering about it all, what had happened to her, wondering why bad things happened to good people. Then I left and went back to my normal life.
Well, I know you have to go soon, sorry to take up all your time with my story here. I was just chewin' the fat with a brew but I thought I should tell you about her, try to explain things anyway. How people can change...
You see crazy people around town and you sometimes wonder what their story is. Why are they like that? How'd they get that way? The truth is a very ugly thing to look at and it ruins a person.
Sorry, the drink must be getting to me or something. It's only my third beer but I've been sitting here for three hours. That's what alcohol does to you, it loosens your tongue, makes you say stuff you don't normally say. What is that stuff that makes you tell the truth all the time? That truth serum? That stuff is messed up. Forcing people to tell the truth like that.
What do you think it would be like to tell the truth all the time? What do you think that would do to you? Would society try to shut you up? Put you on some meds, so you can't tell what's real and what isn't.
I'd be lying if I said I wanted to tell the truth all the time, I don't. The world would be a very ugly place is everybody told the truth, because the truth is, people can't handle the truth, they don't like it. The world's an ugly place already but I don't think telling the truth all the time would help. I don't know what the answer is...
I still don't know what to make of it all.