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What Is A Lie?
from: Humberto Manzo

Nice subject, huh?  Well I was thinking about the people I've known through my life and those I came to call friend,  I suddenly found an interesting fact.  The closest friend I have is Bruce, now this is just to state a fact and point out that Bruce is one of the most honest people I know.  Well
compared to the other people I used to hang around with he is.

Just to set the subject on its course, I will partake in a story I was once told.  Craig , a guy who I used to work with told me this.

A cousin of his friend knew this guy.  Well this guy had picked up a 16 year old girl on the road and raped her, and she was so devastated that she committed suicide.  A month after she died and was buried people reported seeing a ghostly shape around the stretch of road where the rape took place.  The guy was driving alone one night and saw the ghost on the road, he tried to get away by driving faster, but she kept appearing in front of him.  Suddenly she appeared next to him, he was so startled by this that he smashed the car against a tree and died instantly.  Her ghost was never seen again, laid to rest by having avenged itself.

Craig told me the story straightfaced, he actually believed it to be true.  The story is what we call "An Urban Myth."  Everyone knows a friend with a cousin that might have seen something along a stretch of road.   In fact I could have told Puckeridge why the story was flawed.  The most obvious being, if the guy was alone, how come we know what he saw before he died?  I allowed Puckeridge the benefit of the doubt.  Why?  Because I've met the guys who start urban myths.  Puckeridge was just retelling a lie, I used to hang around the guys that make up the lies.

1975. Baldasini, he was Italian,  I met him in La Spezia (Italy) in school and we were close friends for about a year, Baldasini was his surname, I can't remember his first name.  In all honesty Baldasini was a loser, that was okay,  I was lost at the time and he was willing to comit so we were a good couple.  Baldasini was a compulsive liar, so I helped him with this problem.

He was only 10, I was 11, so he was not into credible lying,  I had read a few books by then so I understood fiction a lot better than him.  I knew that his lies would not survive without some basic facts to support them, so I provided some element of truth for him.  In legal terms this is called an alibi.

For example.  Some kids may have been talking about their football card collection, Baldasini would say that he had the complete collection personally autographed by all the players and it would be worth hundreds of dollars maybe even thousands.  At this point someone would call him a liar, like I said he wasn't convincing, I would step in and say that I though he was lying too, until that is I actually saw the collection, in fact Baldasini was being modest about it, the collection was worth a lot more.  If anyone asked to see the collection I would tell him not to be stupid, you couldn't bring something that expensive to school, his father kept it locked in a safe so nothing would happen to them.  By the end of the school day Baldasini was well known for having the best football card collection in the world.

Why did Baldasini lie?  Well he wanted attention, he wanted to be cool and accepted by the rest.  Why did I lie?  Well he was my friend, I had to back him up.  For gods sake don't judge me like that, you have to be there for your friends, I may not have been honest but at least I was loyal.

Now before we go any further.   Here are some Frequently Asked Questions.

What is a lie?  Well it's not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Is it wrong to lie?  Only if you get caught, or you hurt someone.

If the someone is a bastard that deserves it, then it is okay to lie.

What types of lies are there?

Two main types.  {1}  I am trying to hurt you lie.   {2}  I am trying to protect you from the truth lie.

We will do a little bit of role playing to give you a better idea, Bruce will help me with this.

"Thanks for volunteering Bruce, mighty nice of you."

"No problem, always there for you."

"Lets start."

Numbert One:

"Bruce, I just heard on the radio that your wife ran off with some bikers after a bank robbery.  She left a message saying that she hated your guts and thrashed the house and destroyed all your Queen records.  I though it would be better coming for me."  ( This is the I'm trying to hurt you lie, in case you didn't notice.)

"But I just talked to her an hour ago, how could this be?"

"Sorry, my mistake, must have been somebody else.  Don't worry about it."

Number Two:

"Bruce I went past your house, The place was a mess.  I called the police and they are looking for clues as to what happened.  They think that your wife has been kidnapped."

"Oh my god."

"It's okay Bruce, I'm sure that she is safe and she really loves you,  I am really sorry and I'll be there for you.  By the way all your Queen records are broken."


The truth would be:
I found a note from your wife that I am keeping from the police.  It says "I am sick of you and running off with a gang of bikers.  I trashed the place, you clean up, say goodbye to Fredie."

Disclosure:  Bruce's wife is fine, his record collection is also fine.  It wasn't really Bruce, I only used a fictional character to stand in for the real one.

Back to Baldasini, he wasn't trying to hurt anyone with his lies.  So he must be in the I'm trying to protect you from the truth category, therefore he meant well.  I left Italy in 1976, a long time ago now.  I haven't heard anything about  him since.  He probably became a lawyer, a politician or something like that.

When I got to Australia I got to know Alex, he and I become very close.  He was very different from Baldasini, he was artistic and cool so he didn't need to lie.   I will get back to him in a second.

1979 Roger , Alex went on a trip to Argentina for 2 years. So during that time I took up with Roger.  I felt comfortable with him, he reminded me of Baldasini.  Roger couldn't draw oxygen without lying about it.  He told me that his father had escaped from Poland, as a political refuge, he used to be a jet-fighter pilot.  Now my father and family, including me, left Chile as political refuges, so I couldn't fault him on that.  When I met his father the jet-fighter pilot story fell to pieces.  I felt comfortable with Roger, I knew he was lying and that was okay.  We used to go places and do things, this was good because the things we did were magnified, improved and sanitized for public viewing.

For example: The truth.

Roger and I drove around in his car, we stopped at the lights and dragged a beat up volvo, we barely won the race against a 50 year old man who probably didn't know which one was the accelerator.

The truth after we got through with it. Roger and I were minding our own business.  We were challenged at the lights by this guy in a brand new Porsche, he looked at us, we looked at him.  We nodded at each other and Roger let him have it, the last thing we saw of the Porsche was in a cloud of our dust. Notice that we didn't lie that much.  .  We did win the race. Volvo and Porsche are both european cars.

Roger was just an older version of Baldasini, he was a better liar but only because of experience.  I had to lend credibility to him to keep the whole thing going.  We managed.  We managed to fail physics together and get into a lot of trouble.  Too much to mention in this space, I will save it for later.

Alex,  I told you that I would get back to him.  Now Alex didn't lie.  He worked the truth differently.  He told the truth most of the time, he sometimes forgot to add bits of necessary information.  It was no wonder that Alex went into advertising.   Alex was dangerous in the same way that Uranium 235 is.  For those that haven't done chemistry, Uranium 235 is a radioactive substance that when processed and refined turns to Uranium 238 which is used in Atom bombs.  Uranium 235 isn't explosive and doesn't level cities, but it will give you radiation poisoning if exposed to it over long periods of time.  Alex didn't get caught doing things wrong, or implicated in problems, those around him did.

Alex was cool, everyone liked him, he had no problems with women.  Theyfell at his feet, a new girlfriend every month.  Love them and leave them, that was his motto.  He was in no way handsome, he was only 5 foot 2, and ever got taller, but he had charisma and gall.  If he had some ambition he could have been the next Hitler, I would have run the secret service for him.

Roger and Baldasini were both compulsive liars, and I helped them, fed them and gave them better lies to work with.  Alex told the truth, compulsively.  He told it in a way that people would be embarrased by it and he would come out looking good.  He manipulated events and people to his own advantage. I knew it, and I stuck with him, that is until he turned on me.   I am willing to overlook many things in a friend, except disloyalty.

After Alex, 1987 for anyone who is counting, I started hanging around normal people. There are people that you can trust and they trust you, it's the way it should be.  Sometimes I miss the liars, the deceivers and those freer with the truth.   They spice up life.  Without it my stories would have suffered, and I couldn't have written this.

Baldasini, Roger and Alex, all manipulated the truth to feel better about themselves.  I put it down on paper and then feel better about myself.  You can't get much further from the truth than Science Fiction / Fantasy.  Their lies pale next to mine, where they would have come up with a lie a few sentences long, I can come up with whole chapters, neatly bound.



Christmas Lies

'Tis the season to be jolly. Tra-la-la-la and so on. Christmas is the western world's most commercialized time of the year. It's a season of giving and receiving, of family reunions, of unadulterated lying.

Bah humbug! That is what I say in December and don't I get told off for it. Scrooge without any ghosts bothering me at all, bring them on I say. It is ironic that Christmas is the time of the year that has the highest suicide rate. It is the time when we lie to each other the most!

The lies start small, white lies. "I'm just going out to get a newspaper." When in fact you are going out to buy a present.

Then they get bigger. "Yes Tommy, Santa is real, if you are really good you may get what you want this year." Then the lies are used as threats and bribes. "That's it young man, one more word out of you and I'm calling Santa, just eat your veggies and I will put in a good word for you."

How do you explain to a child that Santa is not real? Well you don't. It's like fairies and elves, and God and angels, just because we don't have proof they exist doesn't mean we can't have faith in them. It isn't wrong to tell a child that Santa Claus is real, if you believe that to be a fact yourself. But if you don't believe in Santa, using him as a good excuse for your kids to eat their food is a deception. Just because everybody else is telling their kids the same lie, doesn't make it right.

Then the lies begin to arrive from all sides, before you know it reality has ceased to exist. I will give an example of the lies in a dialogue form. Just for the heck of it, I will give you the lie first followed by the truth in italics.

"Grandma, the turkey is just great."
This thing is as tough as boot leather.

"It's a special recipe I got from my
grandmother, here have some more."
Ramon delivered it from the
take-away shop, they're going to eat

everything at this rate, and I was hoping
to have some leftovers for the dogs

"How is uncle Irving? Haven't seen him in a while."
Better seem interested or she'll cut me out of the will.

"Oh he's fine, off to Florida again,
I'll tell him you asked about him."
That weirdo is back in jail again.
They haven't proved anything
but I'm sure he's involved with
those kids going missing.

"I noticed your garden is looking great this year."
This house will be worth a bundle once she's gone.

"Uncle Irving did some work in the
flower beds dear, he is so handy in the garden."
I'm sure there are a couple of bodies
under the roses, but I'm not having
the police digging up my yard,
I could win a blue ribbon this year.

"This tie is beautiful grandma, thank you so much."
You old hag, where do you find this crap?

"It suits you my dear, I hope you
get a lot of use out of it."
You dress like a clown, good
clothes would be wasted on you.

"What do you think of the silverware grandma?"
I hate having to waste good money on you.

"I think is so lovely, I will put it with
the good china you gave me last
year. You shouldn't have bothered."
I should be able to pawn this stuff
for a bit more than that lousy tea set
you gave me. I wish you'd give me
the cash instead, save me the trip.

All right, so not everybody's family is this quirky. Nobody can deny that you do tell a few lies at Christmas. You don't want to hurt someone's feelings so you say you like their present, or you try and be really friendly with that cousin you hate.

No matter how you look at it, you aren't actually being honest a lot of the time in December. Remember, if you aren't being honest, you are lying.

"Gran, can I have another serving?"
With any luck she'll die in the next few months.

"Of course dear, how about some potatoes too?"
Little leach. I'm leaving all my money to Ramon,
the delivery boy. He knows how to satisfy me.


THE OFFICE SNAKE: Lies In The Work Place
by Humberto Manzo

Jim has been in the company I work for about a year now; a couple of months back I began to notice some of his habits. The company we work for is a snake pit, a place full of politics highly charged with stress and people clambering over each others backs to get a promotion. Jim will do well here, as long as he stays off my toes.

Jim is in his mid-twenties, male, confident and outgoing. He makes friends easily. He makes easy conversation, usually trying to find something that the person he is talking to can relate to and be happy with. He is in short a mimic, I am using the term freely, he doesn't copy people's features and clothing, but he does copy their mannerisms and habits.

The emulation of the person you are talking to, being interviewed by or just sharing a cup of coffee with is a sales technique. Your body language matches theirs so they feel more relaxed and at ease with you. Watch next time someone wants something from you and can't force you to do it; you may find they start copying your movements and laughing at your jokes. Jim is very good at emulating people.

The fact is you cannot emulate everyone at the same time. It is the old saying, I think it was Lincoln who spouted this piece of wisdom, correct me if I am wrong. You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Jim will see that person A is troubled. In a friendly manner he will share a coffee with them or go downstairs for a cigarette. He will give them the usual emulation and words to the effect "I understand what you're feeling, same thing happened to me. So who's giving you a hard time?"

Person A will reply: "It's that bitch from accounts, blah, blah, blah, yaddah, yaddah, and so on." This is obviously a dramatisation that has been condensed but you get the gist.

Jim will store all the information that person A releases in their depressed state. Jim will go about his business until a couple of weeks later he will meet the bitch from accounts; lets call her person B. They will have coffee or a chat at the photocopier and Jim will steer the conversation.

"So, how is project 1123 going? I hear you're doing a lot of work on it." Jim will start.

"Yes, I am getting the thing rolling now, I wish I could make some people work faster. Things would be easier if people just tried harder." Person B says with slight irritation.

"Yes, I heard a rumour that there was some friction happening in accounts." Jim will say innocently.

"What do you mean? Who did you hear it from?" Person B will ask, suddenly less happy.

"Well Person A was bitching about you, I probably shouldn't have mentioned it. You're pretty good in your job, what do you need person A for?" Jim will go on.

Person B will cuss angrily: "He's the only one that knows about Server190 at the moment, I tell you if somebody else had any idea about it I'd go to them."

"I did some Server170 work years ago, it's probably the same in principle I could help you if things get worse." Jim will say helpfully, smiling and trying to soothe person B into calmness.

"Well there is a Server190 course happening next month, if you want to I'll get IT to send you over and then you can freshen up, project 1123 will be over soon but I'll still need help in the future."

"That would be nice, but you don't have to go through the trouble. I could get some manuals from the tech library and have a look through them. There is no need to waste money and resources on it."

"No, no trouble, leave it up to me. I'll get you the course and then I won't have to rely on person A all the time. Thanks Jim."

What you have just read is the archtypical work of the office snake. If you haven't met one yet, you will soon. Be on the lookout. They are often good looking, slick, and as I said before: they make you feel at ease.

To break it down their modus operandi into simple terms these are the steps to follow.

A> Get information from person A.
B> Using information you do some research.
C> Present information to person B and offer help.
D> Person B feels like you've done them a favour and they respond with kindness.
E> Person A is terminated by person B, you get person A's job.

As they say, knowledge is power. Jim uses the old, you catch more flies with honey, technique. This manipulation of information and situations is rampant in anyone's workplace and any place where more than 4 people gather.

Where is the deception? Jim is manipulating people using information attained through deceit. The deception lies in being friendly. Emulating people making them feel comfortable with you and ultimately getting them to trust you is okay. That is how we make friends, by finding common ground. Using the same technique to gather information is deception, making people feel that they can trust you and then taking advantage of them is immoral.

Car salesmen, politicians, managers, and Tony Robins all use the emulation technique. The moment that you act aloof and start bragging about being great people turn off. If you act humble and listen to their problems, share something with them, they will respond in kindness. That is how you win people over.

How do you deal with these people? The ones that are truly just trying to be a friend aren't a problem. But there are predators out there that mimic their prey. They look and act normal, until the time is right and then they spring into action. The way to protect against them is to first spot them, difficult if you are a trusting sort, skeptics like me have no trouble in picking one out from the crowd.

Once you have one in your sights misinform them, this is what the secret service does and it works. Tell them a half lie about yourself and Person C, make sure that you can trust person C and let them in on the action. Then begin the process of escalating lies between Person C and yourself. You and Person C get together compare notes and see how good the information flow is with the Jim type guy.

You have a couple of options here:

A> Use him as a pipe. Gather information from him but give no real information back.

B> Discredit him by letting everyone else in on the joke, this is harsh but fair.

A word of warning for the more innocent in the crowd, there is no need to be paranoid and think that everyone out there is trying to get something from you. Actually the truth is everybody does want something from you, it is just that some want a trade of goods. For example you give them friendship; they give you affection back. There are some that only want and don't give, you give them friendship and you get a knife planted between the shoulder blades. This gets extremely close to betrayal, so we won't go there yet. It is the deception before the betrayal that you must be wary of.

Smooth operators that are friendly with everyone are the people that you should consider as possible predators. They are often good looking, sexually alluring and they will pay attention to you in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. Watch out! They are sizing you up as they sharpen the knife.

Person A is gone. Jim likes his new job. The pay is good. He says he wants to take me out for lunch soon.


Was I The Office Snake Or The Office Snail?
The regret birthed from betrayal.


There are times in your life when you aren't quite proud of yourself.

There are things that are best-forgotten, hidden away deep inside your brain and never brought out for display. These are the times that you lie to yourself about.

I was 24, the start of my career as an operator. My job then was as a lowly Data Entry Operator, keying in endless amounts of data so our mainframe could chew through. I was taking a course at the time, to be a computer operator, one of the fly-boys of the IT world.

There were 2 unrelated issues that got me promoted to the ranks of operations.

One was a theft that occurred in the operations area, a pay-packet went missing. The other I will retell here.

There were enough operators already working at the company, but they worked as lone wolfs, because of the theft, an alteration in security was required. Until better security measures could be installed the operators would have to be buddied up, working in teams of two.

Steve was my boss at the time, and he was preparing me for bigger things, we were very good friends, we used to have long conversations and used to go out bushwalking and other activities. He had hired me because a male in Data Entry was a novelty, and also because he liked my butt. He was gay, I wasn't, but I liked him so we got on pretty well.

I was brought in from the Data Entry department as a stopgap measure. I was smart enough to do most things and all they really needed was a second person on board. My buddy was the only female in the computer room, lets call her Lucy.

Lucy was a strange woman, she wasn't good looking but she was very masculine. She was flat chested, wore short hair and lose clothing. Steve had a lot of run-ins with her. I used to make fun of him, saying that it was because she was more man than he. She wasn't strange because of the way she looked, rather more the way her moods swung from one side of the spectrum to the other for no apparent reason.

Our first shift together was interesting. We were working afternoon shift 15:00 to 23:00, she showed me a few things and ran through the schedule with me.

Halfway through the night she got a phone call from her boyfriend. They talked for 30 minutes and then she asked me whether she could go out for a few minutes.

Remember I wasn't actually an operator yet, so I had no idea about which jobs did what or why. She started a few jobs going and told me it would be fine, all I had to do was watch the consoles and answer any prompts that came up.

She came back two hours later, by that time I'd managed to screw up a lot of the

schedule. She tidied up after me and got things back in shape for the next shift team to arrive. She made a joke to the other guys about how I'd screwed up and things were smoothed out.

I thought about it for a long time, two days as a matter of fact. Then I went to Steve and told him what happened. Yes, folks, it was a low thing to do. Most office snakes prepare their craft for weeks before striking, I was a beginner, a rank amateur. I made my first kill without any real effort, Lucy had handed me the knife and I thought about it for a measly 48 hours before striking the blow. She was gone four hours after I told Steve, I had her job 10 days later.

For those that don't know what to call this, well it is betrayal. Lucy trusted me, I said it was okay for her to go out and then ran to my friend the boss and got her fired. I could excuse myself as having done the right thing by management, she had been in dereliction of duty, I was a trainee and left in charge of a multi million dollar IT system.

I will never forget the look she gave me as she was being walked out of the building. It wasn't a look of anger, I would have preferred it, she gave me a look of disappointment. She had trusted me, thought of me as a friend and got fired for it. Karma evened the score a year later when I too left the company under a dark cloud.

It is hard for me to admit that I wasn't just a snake. I also made a few kills, there are a couple of skeletons in my closet gathering dust. I no longer play the games, I am tired of them, I watch others do the things I did and wonder how they will pay for their crimes later in life.

The fact will always follow me, would I have made it in my career without that

first betrayal. I am sure I would have, but then there is always the doubt. That is the problem with betraying someone, you never get away with it, sooner or later it catches up with you, sometimes the taint stays with you forever.

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