A Pinocchio in all of us

A reflection on human behavior

by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco

When I was an undergrad, one of my professors asked us to come up with crazy excuses if ever we came to class late. Some of her examples were “There was an earthquake, the ground split in two and out came Superman” , “I saw the man/woman of my dreams and I couldn’t just let him/her pass by” , and “I had to help a poor man.” My professor said teachers are smart enough to know the real reason behind students’ tardiness be it laziness to prepare early in the morning or the stereotypical traffic. They are merely asking questions as a form of power tripping, a reminder to students that teachers can see pass through their lies. That being said, my professor wanted to put this scenario on a higher level. Why not hone students’ creativity by making exaggerated excuses? Students can make up a lie when everyone is aware, the teacher establishes her superiority, the class is happy.

I have come to believe that people make excuses with the underlying reason that we think our friends or family members or even rest of the world will be stupid enough to eat our alibis up. It is unfortunate that we treat the person right next to us dumber but at the same time, we refuse our intelligence to be insulted. Alas, the skill of saying an outright honest answer has proven to be very difficult to attain given the world we live in where reputation, dignity, and honor are top priorities. In connection to this, I realize that maybe we are all just cowards and it takes a really brave person to say, “No, I don’t like to. I’m sorry.” We tend to sugarcoat our cowardice with petty alibis and end up insulting others.

I am not a completely honest person. Neither do I consider myself to be the greatest liar out there, like Holden Caulfield is. However, I do not like it when friends make up stories to mask weaknesses because as far as I am concerned one hides disadvantages from strangers not friends. It is funny for me how nemesis or rivals can be totally honest to each other, their detestation out in the open and friends cannot. Suffice it to say, I want to believe I am more honest with my friends than with strangers. Following the same concept, I consider strangers those who make so many excuses. I want to think that my friends don’t think I am stupid to believe every single thing they feed me. I want to give them a benefit of the doubt.

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For Hazel and Maria who did not make up any excuses and conquered the 10 k marathon with me.

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