"There's one thing you may be sure of, Pip," said Joe, after some rumination, "namely, that lies is lies, However they come, they didn't ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don't you tell no more of 'em."
The passage brought two things into sharp focus for me -- the rampant, unrepented dishonesty saturating the world today, and a memory of the most honest man I know. I'll skip commenting on the former and concentrate instead on the latter in this post.
Ross is a simple, kind-hearted, gentle man who lives in a tiny settlement in northern Ontario in Canada. A mutual friend once told me of a peculiar incident involving Ross and an Ontario Provincial Police officer.
Ross was returning home from a hunting trip and was clocked driving 110 kilometers in an 80 kilometer zone. Apparently, he only realized he was speeding when he noticed the flashing lights in his rear-view mirror. Muttering under his breath, he promptly pulled over and waited for the police officer to approach the car.
"Thirty clicks over the limit," the cop said sternly as he inspected Ross's driving license. "That's nothing to sneeze at. Do you know what the fine for that is?"
"I have no idea," Ross admitted. "Must be a lot. And I don't know how it happened. I guess I got lost in thought."
"Yeah. Could cost some points, too. So, were are you headin' in such hurry, eh?"
"Just headin' home. Coming home from a hunting trip. But I wasn't in a hurry. Like I said, I must have just got lost in thought." Ross paused for a moment. "But I'm not tryin' to make excuses or nothing. I should've been more mindful."
Noting Ross's conciliatory tone, the cop took the driver's license and ran it back at the cruiser. He returned a few minutes later, withdrew his ticket book, and nodded his head. "All right," he said. "I can see you didn't mean it. And you haven't been drinking, and you got a clean record, so here's what I'll do. I'll drop the speed to fifteen over the limit on the ticket. That'll keep you from losing points, and it will cost a whole lot less."
Ross raised his head and looked directly into the police officer's eyes. "I appreciate the offer, but I can't let you do that."
To say the cop was beside himself would have been an understatement. "I don't think you understand," the officer said. "I'm trying to help you out here."
"I get that, officer, but I can't let you do it because if you did it, you'd be lyin' and I'd be lyin' and nothing good could ever come of it."
The cop could barely keep himself from guffawing. They were literally in the middle of nowhere. Walls of pine forest ran along the side of the road on either side. There wasn't another car in sight anywhere, neither in front of them nor behind them.
"No one will know. Just you and me. I'm trying to help you out here."
Ross remained adamant, "And I'm trying to help you out. Please write the ticket for thirty over because thirty over was what I was doin'. That's the truth, and I don't want neither of us to wander away from the truth."
The cop looked like he wanted to say something, but he simply scratched the back of his neck. After a moment of scratching, he placed the tip of his pen to his ticket book and began issuing a ticket to Ross for thirty over the speed limit.
When he handed Ross the ticket, he said, "You know, I've never in my twenty-three years on the force met a man like you."
"Is that a good thing?" Ross asked.
The cop clicked his pen and slipped it back into his jacket. "Yeah, I think it is," he said.
Note added: I once brought this speeding ticket incident up with Ross during a hunting trip years after the fact. Fittingly enough, he cut the subject short by stating that he did not understand what there was to discuss.