Monday, September 28, 2009

Unnecessary lying

Don't lie about lunch plans

One of my teachers at the new uni is a lovely, young, Chinese woman. We’ve gotten well on from the start, only though recently I’ve noticed that she squeezes in unnecessary lies every now and then. Like one Friday after class, when she insisted on showing me her office.

There I was, ooohing and aaahing to her neat desk and bookshelves (didn't really know what else to do), when she suddenly asked me what I was doing for lunch.

-I don’t know, I said. Maybe I’ll just grab something from the food station downstairs.

-Why don’t you go to the big square across the road? There are tonnes of restaurants!

-Yeah I know,
I said. But I don’t really know any people here yet, and it is a bit boring to go alone. So the food station will do for now!

-Oh, OK, well what a shame. Today I brought my own lunch, but how about next Friday we go together?

-Eh… sure! I
said. This was not what I had been fishing for, but why not?

Ten minutes later I was sitting at the café at the first floor when I met one Chinese student that I talked to during registration. She joined my table and we chatted for a bit, until she suddenly said:

-Oh, and there’s one of your teachers, she's also getting lunch!

-Who? Where?

I turned around, only to see my very teacher, lining up at the same food station where I had lined up only 5 minutes ago, obviously getting her lunch. She pretended she didn’t see me.

I felt kind of… confused. I don’t blame her for not wanting to have lunch with me, I never intended for that to happen anyways, it was she who brought it up! But lying about brining your own lunch and then 10 minutes go downstairs to get some? What’s the point of that? It felt like such an unnecessary lie. She might as well have told me she had lunch plans or said nothing or whatever. But what's the point of pretending to be polite and friendly when what you really are doing is lying? Things like that don't really go down well with me. 

Sure, most of us lie (white lies or big lies) at times. But rule number one: don’t lie when you know you’re going to get caught.


Anonymous said...

Maybe she's too shy to ask you to go with her, I think she's waiting for your move after she asked about why you dont go to resturant for lunch. Just my thought.


Pingu said...

She just felt like she had to say something after you said you don't know anyone in the uni to go and have lunch together. Not wanting to accompany you, she told a white lie *shrugs*

She probably would have been better just not saying anything

Anonymous said...

This story gave me a chuckle. Its one of those things that drive me nuts about China. Its been my experience at least, that little lies (white lies as we call them in the US) are commonplace in the culture. But one would think they would be better at it! I've seen many examples of these bad little white lies go awry. Seems that the truth of the matter is we take these things more seriously in the west than they do in China and thats probably why not much effort is made to come up with a decent fib.

What really boggles me is how easily the Chinese throw around little white lies but are so brutally honesty when it comes to money and appearance. Stuff that we lie about all the time in the west.

Personally, I think I prefer the Chinese way. It can be comical and off putting at first, but after your used to it, seems innocent enough. But because of the honesty about stuff that truly matters, I often feel closer to sone of my Chinese friends than some American friends I have known for years.

Johan Rusli said...

Why didn't u ask her directly? I think there must be a reason behind it such as she forgot to bring her own lunch or other reason

Jonna Wibelius said...

Fei -naaaah, she is not the shy kind, trust me. She's rather forward.

pingu -Yeah obviously she did. I also wish she would have said nothing.

Hopfrog -yeah, the reason why I blogged about this is not because I felt bitter because of her lying to me, but, like u said, that this is so often the case over here. people lie to you about silly little things, straight to your face. Or, they use the most common excuse: "meiyou banfa" (there is no way) when there definitely is a way. I have blogged about this several times when I've proven that if you just hang around and nag for long enough, a sudden "banfa" will appear... Like u said, it is quite innocent, but I personally don't really dig it. To me it's so unnecessary.

Johan -I could have never confronted her. I felt embarrassed about seeing her standing in that line, and I am pretty sure that if I would have asked her "hey, didn't you bring lunch today?" another little lie might have been presented to me. It's not as if I am going to hold this against her or as if I am thinking about it every time I see her, I just know for a fact that she's not 100% honest with me. No biggy. Just good to know I guess.

Jewels said...

Maybe she did something silly like left it on the counter at home and then only realized her mistake when she went to get her lunch out of her bag? I do this frequently... lots of sour yogurt left on the table! Who knows? Maybe she's a pathological liar. No way to tell unless you confront her, but I don't think it's worth the trouble.

mantse said...

You can ask her directly next Friday (which supposed to be in National Day holiday?)

i guess maybe she found a student ask her to lunch togather then she give up her lunch box only.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Jewels -no no, it's not such a big deal and I'm never going to bring it up. I assumed she lied to come across as polite. For me, that kind of lying is useless though.

mantse -this happened during the first week. When the second week came with our lesson, she didn't even mention lunch. And neither did I.

Brad Farless said...


I haven't noticed the trend of making bad (obviously lies) white lies with Singaporean Chinese. They are rather blunt about money, even with strangers though, and aren't shy about asking what you do, how much you make, etc etc.

Carl said...

Jonna, what is it you are eating in the lunch photo? Just curious.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Carl -egg tomato stir-fry, potatoes and chicken with peanuts. Some of my fave dishes over here!