Well, yes. This blog isn’t about anything in particular. Its more of a series of events that take place at some point in my life that I suddenly am reminded of years later when I can’t sleep at night and am bored stiff.
I recall the time when I was asked as a part of a training course to sell flowers on the road. Now normally, the kind of people you’d see who are engaged in said activity are the homeless and the needy. The dregs of society – those you’d call hobos and waifs wandering about from car to car, beseeching the driver and the occupants with hungrily staring eyes to have some pity and buy a flower.
Which is a bit misleading, if I’m honest – because the flowers were just for show. What really happens is that people give them whatever spare change they happen to have and ask them to move on – in order to avoid feeling guilty about their affluent circumstances.
Coming back to the point – which was me selling the flowers. Now I’m a bit of a student of human psychology. I knew that it was mainly guilt that made people buy a flower they don’t really need – who buys a wilting flower? Since I don’t even remotely look like a homeless waif or a hobo – most people take me for a really affluent chap because of the way I look – I had a bit of a dilemma. There I was, on the kerbside, holding a bunch of flowers in my hand (Roses – Carnations, if you really need to know) having a look at my classmates trying unsuccessfully to sell flowers to people. The looks they got were mostly incredulous. “You’re expecting me to buy a flower from you so that you can pass a test?” type looks. I don’t blame them – I’d have done the same.
By that time, quite a healthy crowd of these homeless waifs had gathered round – its not everyday they got to see wealthy folk (in their eyes) trying to sell anything on the street. Which gave me a brainwave.
I pulled one of these kids aside – the dirtiest, most soulful looking chappie I’d seen among the lot – and told him I’d pay him 20% of whatever profit I made if all he’d do was tag along, keep his mouth shut and look like he hadn’t had a good meal in weeks. He grinned, we shook on it and suddenly – I was ready to roll.
As a matter of interest, we were told by the trainer that each flower’s cost was 10 bucks. Anything over that, we could keep. Anything less than that, we had to pay from our own pockets. (Most of the class ended up buying those damned wilting roses just to get rid of them in the hour given to us)
My idea – simple. I toted the kid along, went to a car, told whoever I saw that I was a volunteer at a local school (one of Karachi’s finest where the elite go to – to give the impression that I was damnably rich) that donated heavily to help educate children who couldn’t afford it and was donating my time and helping the child sell flowers to get a tuition fee. Yes, it was a barefaced lie. Which made me, for that moment, a shameless liar.
But – it worked. I sold the 10 flowers at a range of 50 – 100 bucks a flower. I kid you not – people literally dived for their wallets and gave me whatever I asked for the wilting flower.
I remember giving the trainer a 100 bucks for the flowers, a 100 to the kid who was quite happy – he made that amount in an entire day and I gave it to him in 30 minutes. I can’t recall the rest of it, but we did manage a decent dinner on my savings alone – me and a couple of classmates.
I think that later that night, it really hit me. Right between the eyes. That what I’d done wasn’t ethical – I’d lied and fooled people who had done me no harm and cheated the lot out of their hard earned money.
I have ever since given up lying (Mostly). Helps me sleep easier at night. Though there are nights like this when I recall that event and still have trouble sleeping. A conscience is a dangerous thing to have. Of course, I’ve heard the justification – if it doesn’t hurt anyone, its not really a bad thing to do – I disagree. That’s where it all begins, in my opinion – those little white lies grow into bigger lies, which in turn twist and warp us and our senses so badly that we not only lie to others about things that matter, but also to ourselves.
Don’t believe me? Ask any addict of drugs – they’ll deny their addiction. It began as a lie to themselves that they were in control of their intake – and soon they ended up believing their own lie to such an extent that they lost their hold on the truth.
Do yourself and the world around you a favor. Quit lying. It doesn’t matter if it is to yourself or to others you come into contact with – because what goes round, comes round. You never know when you’ll be a victim of your own lies.