Recently I’ve been giving some heavy thought to how people look at keeping their word. This was caused by my or ding a new cane when my old one broke. This was over two month ago and for past month I’ve been talking with the store and getting promises that I’ll have it next week. This got to me thinking about how I look at giving and keep your word.
I’m not talking about the casual saying you’ll do or not do something or is something trivial is true or not. I’m talking about the big life promises. The kinds that go into making, and breaking those critical relationships of our lives.
I will be the first to admit I have a very hard nosed view about keeping my word. More than once in my life it has been pointed out that I will say, “I’ll Try”, “I think (or believe)”, or “We’ll see” instead of “I’ll do it”, or “As good as Done”, or “I know”. For me it is simple logic. If I say “I’ll do X.” Then I have to do it, no mater what. No excuses, no nothing, it gets done no mater what it costs me. Extrem, yes. But all me.
One of the things this view has created is my view of people in general. I know, from long and sad experance that most people don’t have my attitude about keep their word. When most people say “I’ll do X” they mean “I’ll try to do X but it may not get done and you have no way of knowing just how much effort I’ll give to get it done.” This has lead me to rarely ask anyone to do anything for me and never ask with out having contengancy plans for when they do not do what they said they would do. If it is not to important to me I often do nothing, if it is very important I figure out away to do it myself.
In my life I have been surprised by people being shocked, and/or offended that I don’t ‘trust’ them to do what they say they will do. When I explain that sometime in the past they said they would do something they didn’t do it. Invariably they say something like “But that wasn’t very important”. I’ve been told I tended to look a bit dumb struck and say something like “What does that have to do with it?” It has taken me something like 60 years to figure out what I wasn’t getting. First most everyone “thinks or beleaves” that their word is important to them when in fact it really isn’t. They have a very casual view of the importance of keeping their word. In the words of one of my favorite TV shows when I was in High School: “I’t ain’t no big thing, brother.”
What is truely hilarious to me is just how offended some folks get when I explain this all to them. Those who get the most upset seem to be those who truely have the most casual attitude about keep their word. I wonder how many people I have offended with this little piece.