There were several occurrences these past weeks with people in the general public that now come as a reminder of how I must continue to be silent even when people are attempting to goad me into saying something that would likely be twisted around and used against me in the future. With our country being at times too politically correct, we can find ourselves simply saying something in jest and then coming back to us from another direction as being a harsh statement. I was in an office yesterday waiting for some work to be completed and found out that one of the people had grown up on a farm and somehow we found ourselves talking about how at times we would be the veterinarian and assistants to ailing animals. Believe it or not, we even did our own de-horning of cattle when necessary. It wasn’t a pleasant job but had to be done. I told the young woman that when schoolmates would be overly naughty to me, I would tell them that I knew how to de-horn devilish steers. She thought it funny but of course mentioned that one couldn’t possibly get away with saying anything like that in today’s world for fear of it being considered a threat.
It’s unfortunate that we all have to be so careful about even responding to something that a near perfect stranger says to us. I was sweeping the front sidewalk of a home I have listed prior to an open house one Saturday and a not so smartly dressed passerby yelled at me after he walked past saying, “I’m the one that should be doing the sweeping instead of you!” I simply glanced at him and continued my sweeping. Thinking back on that, I’m not so sure if that was an attempt to start an ugly conversation.
More times than I want to remember I have listened with a deaf ear the disparaging remarks about others from people who likely would have taken any comment on the subjects as an affirmation of what they were telling me to be true. Sometimes people we believe to be close friends can innocently create a prairie fire of gossip by repeating something that we’ve said, but taken out of context. There are even those questions that become quicksand if answered. The one I used to use as an example of a set-up question is, “How many times did you recently raise your voice?” Trick question isn’t it? If you speak truthfully, you likely raised your voice more than you think simply because we could be calling after someone at a distance, we could be speaking to another who is hard of hearing, and even in making a point in a dramatic way. The person asking the question certainly wouldn’t be asking it in a positive way and likely looking for a negative answer. With that said, I think it best to remember that little said now creates less mending later.