When I was a little girl, my mother told me never to lie; that it would bring misfortune. To this day, I try to avoid lying at all costs. However, there are times I engage in verbal fiction.
Below is a conversation I had with a customer service representative at one of our suppliers in which I tried out a few seconds of verbal fiction. It was about 4:45pm, twilight, and dark gray clouds hung over the entire West Coast.
Acme: "Thank you for calling the Acme Company. How may I help you?"
(The man's desolate monotone sounded like he'd just lost six of his siblings in a volcanic eruption. My empathy glans kicked in immediately.)
Me: (sunny voice) "Hi. I need to place a purchase order."
Acme: (Brief sigh indicating his dog had also run away during the same lava spewing event) "Do you have your account number?"
Me: "Sure, it is P387112"
Acme: (another sigh) "Are you still at 383 West Elm?"
Acme: "What is your PO number?"
Acme: (extremely pitiful sigh) "And what would you like to order?"
(Believe me when I tell you I hadn't planned this. It just happened as a result of listening to the voice of someone in the last stages of lockjaw.)
Me: "I'd like 44 zebras, and 17 giraffes."
Me: "We could use some elephants, too, but I'm waiting for an elephant sale."
(Another long pause)
Me: "Oh, wait. No, I just want 44 pounds of purge material."
(Another long pause with some choking sounds)
Acme: "Who would place an order like that? I mean, who would call and order zebras and giraffes?
(This is where verbal fiction can be dangerous. Every once in a while, someone thinks you are spouting off non-fiction)
Me: "Well, not me. I'd have to have my general manager sign off on the purchase requisition. So, really, all I want is 44 pounds of--"
Acme: "Who would even be able to sign off on a purchase requisition like that? And who would you place the order with?"
Me: (glancing at clock ticking nearer 5PM) "Well, I don't know. I just wanted to cheer you up. So all I need is 44 pounds--"
Acme: "Monkeys. How are you doing on monkeys?"
Me: "Um...we have plenty of monkeys." (holds phone away for a moment and stares at it) "I just need 44 pounds of purge."
Acme: "'Hello, God? Yeah, I need 44 zebras, 17 giraffes, and...um...better toss in about a dozen monkeys.'"
Me: "No monkeys. We don't need monkeys. Just purge."
Acme: "I wonder if there'd be a back order on the Giant Anteater."
(I trained my voice to sound as though my dog had run away in a sea of molten magma.)
Me: "Um...I just want 44 pounds of purge."
Later, I realized my mother was right. She should have also included verbal fiction in with the warning. For three days, until the purge arrived, I expected a big, flatbed truck to pull up with a cage of screaming monkeys and several very tall crates.
Perhaps an emailed purchase order would have taken less time.