“That’s outrageous”, she said, “if it happens again call me and I’ll sort it out immediately”. It happened again. I called her. She never came. In fact, I never saw her again. “That’s no problem”, he said, “I can fix that for you, I’ll see you on Monday”. Monday came and went. He didn’t. “Mr so and so will call you back later today”, said the secretary in full confidence. Either she was not as efficient at her job as the projected authority in her voice would have anyone believe, or Mr so and so suddenly got called into an unexpected meeting …. from which he never returned. There are many invisible yet deadly plagues in our society, that all contribute to our collective levels of despair. People being bad for their word is one of them.
As I sit here typing this article I am currently waiting for nine people to ‘get back to me’. Of course, the moment I call any of them and remind them of their promise, I will receive a barrage of very typical and boringly predictable retorts from their defence mechanisms such as; ‘tut’, ‘I got called away’, ‘I didn’t realise that…’, ‘I thought you didn’t need it done anymore’, ‘I’m too busy’, ‘you’re too impatient’! Oh really?
I’m good for my word. If I say yes, then I do it. If I say no, then I don’t. Everyone knows where they are with me. Which some people find hugely comforting and those who are bad for their word find immensely annoying. “I’ll handle that”, she said with magnitude and hands-on-hips, clearly wondered why I wasn’t thanking her profusely and why my facial expression reflected disbelief. It was because my sight was distracted by the movement in her wonder-woman cape – which only left me wondering?
So why aren’t people good for their word?
1. They haven’t thought it through
2. They have fallen victim to their own saviour complex
3. They want you to like them even though …
4. They want to get rid of you
5. They have no conscience
What people who are bad for their word fail to realise, is that no matter what profession, what level of intellect or what amount in their pay-cheque, the moment their word is revealed as not being worth the toilet paper they spouted on, they lose all respect. Forever. The wizard behind the curtain is revealed. And all that remains is powerless impotence. Their customers know it. Their staff know it. Their children know it. And worst of all, they know it.
There are, of course, those silent soldiers who are steadfast and relentless in the goodness of what they say and do. Thank God for them. And those who have the humility, that should they fall foul to unexpected circumstances that prevent them, actually call back and feel terrible for letting others down. But for those who are bad for their word, the morals of this story are:- Turn off the wind machine, lest you cape get caught up in it. Think before you spout. Spine up. Man up. Grow up. And never upset a writer.