Have you ever been Pickled by a Half-Truth?

My mother is a great story-teller.  As I was growing up, there was one story in particular that I loved to hear her tell, especially if she told it to someone who had never heard it before because before the story ended with the people listening would usually be doubled over in laughter with tears running down their faces.  (With her permission I am sharing that story with you…)

Have you ever been pickled by a half-truth?

When I was two and my sister was a baby, my dad was just out of the military, and my parents were re-inventing our lives in their home state. Dad had a new job and mom wanted to start a garden and can vegetables to contribute to the family.

It was a time when stores were selling more convenience foods, and gardening and canning were not so popular so it was difficult to find the supplies needed to can. My great aunt offered to give several old canning jars to my mother if she would be willing to get rid of the old pickles in the jars.

My mother was thrilled and agreed.  When she got the jars home she wondered what to do with the old pickles.  No garbage disposal.  No plastic garbage bags.  Perhaps she should flush them?  (After all they were about the same size as other items that are typically flushed…)

So she did…

Open a jar.  Dump.  Flush.

That seemed to work

Open another jar.  Dump.  Flush.

And another.  Dump.  Flush.

Repeat.

And then it happened, the toilet started to overflow.

Quick grab a plunger.  Plunge.  Plunge.  Plunge.

Pickles everywhere!

But the toilet was stopped up.

More plunging.  Nothing.

More plunging.  Nothing.

When she finally told my dad about the plugged toilet she did not mention the pickles.  After he plunged it, and snaked it and couldn’t get any results they called the property manager.

The property manager couldn’t figure it out either and eventually had to remove the toilet from the floor.

When he emerged from the bathroom much later, he was holding a bucket of pickles and made a very strong recommendation that my parents needed to find a better way to dispose of their pickles.

At which point my surprised dad shot a look across the room at my mother that she will never forget and we’ve had years to imagine!!!

There are so many lessons to glean from this story:

  1. “Creativity is more important than knowledge.”  Einstein  (Are you creating an environment at home, work or in your community that encourages creativity?)
  2. When you involve others in a problem, omitting details slows down the problem solving and erodes trust. Click to Tweet
  3. Sharing the whole truth and learning to laugh at yourself helps to turn a potentially frustrating situation into a joy-filled memory.  It deepens the learning, builds trust, and encourages others to be creative.

Your Turn!  iStock_000009905754XSmallIt’s YOUR turn ~ Please share:

  • Have you ever been pickled by a half-truth?  What did you do?  What did you learn?
  • Have you created an environment in your home, your community and your country that encourages creative solutions and invites people to speak the whole truth?

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11 thoughts on “Have you ever been Pickled by a Half-Truth?

  1. Good Friday laugh Chery. It reminded me of a similar but differently shaded story in Bill Bryson’s autobiography ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’, which annoyingly I can’t find and isn’t included in Amazon’s look inside pages! Anyway, it also involved Mum behaviour that Dad took for granted, jars under the sink and toilet habits, from memory!

    And I too have been pickled, sliced and eaten by some of the hazy justifications I have given over the years. These days I really do try to confess and ask for pardon!

    • David,

      Thank you so much for the comment! I would love to read that story! Too funny that involved jars and sinks and toilets too! (Isn’t it annoying when the technology we’ve gotten spoiled with fails to work like we think it should?)

      I am with you in that I have made those mistakes too! I hope with all of my heart that I make less of them as I age and the hard-learned lessons sink in, and as I cling more tightly to the vision of character-based leadership!

  2. Great message…you’ve got to learn to laugh at yourself! It’ll get you past many embarrassing moments – humor seems to diffuse even the most intense situations!