Volume 39, Issue 8, August  2004

theBUSINESS


The Truth???
by Lyle R. Hill

“Hey, Hill … I need your help.”

It didn’t matter that we hadn’t spoken to each other in several months. Jungle Jim Bruney is always direct. No mindless pleasantries … no small talk … no questions about the family. Just right to the point. And actually, I kinda prefer him that way.

“I’m listening,” I replied.

“Good, cause here’s the thing. I’m struggling with the truth.”

“How so, Jungle Jim?”

“Well, Hill, I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ but now I’m starting to wonder if truth is in the ear of the listener. You know, kind of a non-absolute, judgmental type thing.” 

“You’re scaring me, Bruney.”

“Why?”

“Cause we don’t talk about things like this. We’ve known each other since we were kids and we’ve never had a serious conversation and this one sounds like it could be heading that way. Usually you call to borrow money, tell me a new joke you’ve heard or to make fun of somebody. So I guess the thought of having a serious, adult-like conversation with you is a little frightening, that’s all. But don’t stop. I want to know where you’re coming from with this.”

“Listen, Hill, this isn’t easy for me either, but some things have happened recently and it’s caused me to stop and ponder some of life’s big questions. You know, like can true love still be found? Does truth exist? Is there enough time left for the Cubs to have a shot at the pennant?” 

This was definitely not the Jungle Jim Bruney I was used to dealing with. In fact, I could actually detect a sincerity in his voice that I had never heard before. 

“Talk to me, Bruney.”

“Well, Hill, over the past several weeks I have witnessed people fabricating stories to serve there own personal agendas, breaking commitments to people who had befriended and helped them and distorting the truth to such an extent that reality is no longer recognizable. In a lot of cases, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why people, who do know the truth, don’t speak the truth. Or, why others don’t speak out when they hear untruths.” 
“Bruney, I’m both surprised and disappointed. After all, you grew up on the same West side of the city that I did. You know that people will always lie to promote their own self-interest or to save face in a given situation. They have their egos to sustain, their image to protect. And why should anyone speak out to correct the wrong? Getting involved means you care and caring comes with a price. Shame on you for being bothered by this.”
“But somewhere there is truth … isn’t there?”

“Let me give you my favorite saying about the subject, Bruney. It’s been in my right hand desk drawer for more than 20 years. It goes like this … ‘Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most hurry off as if nothing had happened’… and I believe that is the truth about truth.” 

“Maybe I’m getting old, Hill. Maybe I’m getting soft.”

“Bruney, let me share with you what Koziac the Polish Accountant once told me … ‘expect very little from your fellow man and you’ll rarely be disappointed’… and unfortunately, he’s right.”

“So are you saying there is no truth … no one is to be believed?”

“Not exactly, Bruney. I believe there is absolute truth and I believe that there are people who convey what they believe to be the truth in an accurate and honest way. But I think those people are few and far between. I think you always have to question motive. Why is someone telling me what he is telling me? What is their motivation? How might they be benefiting from what they are saying or writing? Is the truth going to serve their purpose or is the truth better for them with a little spin on it? And let’s face it; a whole lot of people simply can’t deal with the truth. It’s much too uncomfortable.” 

“Thanks, Hill. You’ve been kinda helpful.”

“You’re welcome, Jungle Jim.”

“But listen, can I trouble you just a little more? You see I’m involved in a transaction, so to speak, and I’m not sure who to believe. It’s bothering me quite a bit and that’s actually the real reason I called.”

“So, Bruney, you’re dealing with a situation where there are two different versions of the same story…so to speak? And you want me to tell you which one to believe?”

“Not exactly, but I understand what you’re saying about motivation and benefit and all that kind of stuff so I wouldn’t mind getting your thoughts on something I’m kinda currently involved with … if you don’t mind.”
“OK, Bruney. Tell me about it.”

“Well, Hill,” he began. “My wife Debbie’s birthday is just a few weeks away and I always have a problem deciding what to get her. So last Saturday, while I was out cutting the front lawn, the guy who lives two doors to the east of me puts out a sign in his front yard that reads FOR SALE – TALKING DOG. Now, I don’t particularly like this guy. In fact, I’ve had a run in or two with him over the years, but my curiosity got the better of me so I turned the mower off and walked over to investigate.”

“Then what happened?”

“I rang the bell; the guy comes to the door and tells me the dog is in the back yard. I go around to the back yard and this golden retriever is sitting there. So I say to the dog … ‘are you the talking dog?’ And the dog looks at me and says … ‘maybe, what do you want?’”

“So I say … ‘what’s your story?’”

“The retriever smiles and says … ‘Well, I discovered I had this gift when I was still very young and being a patriotic kind of a dog, I told the CIA about my ability and in no time at all they had me jetting all over the world doing under cover work. I’d be sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders and getting all kinds of top-secret information because, you know, nobody figured a dog would be eavesdropping on high level conversations. And the government was good to me. They sent me to school and trained me in several languages, counter-espionage and a whole bunch of stuff I can’t tell you about … or I’d have to bite you.’”

“Then what happened?” I asked.

“Well,” the dog continued, “after a few years, my knees started to give out and I just couldn’t travel like I used to so I took a supervisory job at an airport and did a few side jobs for the glazier’s union. But I really need to slow down even more so pretty much all I want to do now is take it easy and finish the book I’ve started to write about my adventures.”

“Now I gotta tell you, Hill, at this point I’m pretty impressed so I thank the dog for his time and go back to talk to my neighbor, the dog’s owner. And I say to the guy … OK … I’m interested. How much for the dog?” 

“And my neighbor says $10.”

“Then I say … this dog is absolutely amazing. Why in the world are you selling him so cheap?”

“Cause he’s a liar,” the guy says. “He didn’t really do any of that stuff.”

“Bruney,” I began. “This is an interesting story to say the least and I want to thank you for sharing it with me. But what does this have to do with me?”

“Well, Hill, who should I believe? The guy or the dog? Who’s telling the truth?”

“Wow, Bruney. That’s a tough question. But knowing all that I know and having seen all that I have seen, I’d put my money on the dog.”


USG

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