So, my wife lost her job recently. Why? A combination of factors, including budget cutbacks (something like ten people got canned) and the fact that the new boss didn’t much like her.
Drag, certainly. But so it goes.
And then someone asked me if she’d been canned because of her arrest.
I said “What?”
“Start making sense, please.”
“She was arrested for drunken driving.”
“It’s in the paper. She was picked up yesterday for drunken driving by the local cops.”
Now this was nuts. The previous day, she’d come to work, she’d come home, same as any other day. And certainly she’d have told me if she’d been arrested, and what the hell would she have been doing drinking? She’s a schoolteacher, for potato’s sake! Admittedly, the stresses of our fair profession do produce a lush or two, but I think I’d have noticed if my wife was one, and I said so.
My coworker smirked at me and advised me to check into it. So I did. Went to the library, checked yesterday’s paper.
Sure enough, Jane Doe, 50, of Ecksville, had been picked up the previous day for drunk driving, theft by check of over $200, and failure-to-appear warrants.
I laughed. MY Jane Doe is way younger and doesn’t live in Ecksville, ten miles away; she lives right here in town! Wow, imagine that! Same name! And in the same general locality! Ha!
…and I said as much the next day to my coworker.
Coworker smirks. “That’s not what I heard. I heard she was fired for bein’ a crook.”
Now, perhaps I was a bit harsh. My wife’s been out of sorts for a while, now, having lost her job and all (although her contract has her still working through the end of the school year), but I submit it ain’t a smart move to call a man’s wife a crook to his face. Particularly if you’re wrong, and have no evidence to support your claim. At any rate, I was feeling a bit stressed.
“Check it with the cops if you don’t believe me,” I said. “Besides, how could she be here for work today if she was in jail?”
“Well, you could have bailed her out.”
“I didn’t. Didn’t have to. Wrong Jane Doe.”
“That’s not what I hear–”
I interrupted. “Then whoever you heard it from is a damn filthy liar,” I said, “and you’re a goddamned idiot for believing it when you could easily check the facts for yourself. But you don’t WANT to check the facts, do you? More fun to believe lies? Nice juicy gossip? Well, suit yourself. Believe whatever you like.”
(step forward, deliberately invade coworker’s physical space.)
“… But if I find that you’ve been spreading lies about my wife, and you’re stupid enough to make sure I can prove it, then lawyers are going to be the least of your worries.”
And I took a hike. My voice had been calm enough, but I really did feel like hitting someone, and that’s not a good idea in a public high school. Time to cool off, have a break, whatever. I wasn’t real proud of my behavior, but at least now, the woman might well investigate the situation before opening her big stupid mouth again. And if not, and she decided to blab further, well, last I heard, slander was a lawsuitable offense, and when one is a teacher, one’s reputation is a bankable asset. Smear it at your own risk.
I haven’t had anything like that happen to me since grade school. Man, what is it about people, that they’d rather believe crap than truth, out of sheer maliciousness?
Allovasudden, I think I understand the idea of “propaganda” a little better today.
Tell people what they wanna hear, and they’ll dive through hoops to believe you…