Over the years I have learned what harm can come from gossip or just talking about other people.
In my work place, gossip is a big problem, which is heightened by a couple of women who actually feel the need to stretch and twist certain bits of information, simply for the sake of turning staff against each other.
Having been on the receiving end of their back stabbing, I have become very aware of what I say and to whom. I have prayed to God for help in being straightforward with people, and not say anything that might get back to someone who could be hurt by my words.
One night, I was on the phone with my sister-in-law, Dawn. I had called her to let her know our husbands would have to work very late that Saturday night due to some machinery problems. She was carrying on about not getting anything done that day since they were due to move out of their apartment by that next Friday. I mentioned that sixteen hours at time-and-a-half pay would certainly make up for it. She was OK with that, but said it would not make much difference when they had to pay the whole next month's rent if they were not out by the end of the week. I acknowledged her point, but figured either way; they wouldn't really be out any expected money.
The next day, while my husband, Arlo, was helping his brother move, my dad called hoping to also enlist Arlo's help.
I have 3-way calling on our phone, so I clicked over and called my brother-in-law's house, leaving a message on the answering machine for Arlo to call my dad when he could.
I clicked back over to my Dad and began telling him about the long day Arlo and his brother had put in. We inadvertently got on the subject of Dawn, who was not so thrilled about the time they had lost for moving. Dad agreed that for the money they made, it was worth it. Then I mentioned that she should have "gotten off her butt and did something herself."
Monday evening came along and Arlo walked in the house, looked at me, and began laughing as he headed into the next room. He did a sort of double take and said, "Brenda, next time you are talking bad about someone, make sure the three-way calling is disconnected."
Almost immediately I knew what he was talking about, but I wasn't exactly sure what all I had said.
Dawn's answering machine had picked up the entire conversation between Dad and me!
Arlo and his brother thought the situation was hysterical. Of course, men tend not to let things like that get to them. However, I know Dawn well enough to know she would be pretty upset, especially after both of our husbands spent the afternoon laughing at her and making cracks about her lazy butt.
Wondering how I was going to fix this one, I stopped by to apologize a couple of times, but Dawn wasn't around. After a couple of weeks, I finally spoke to her. When she picked up the phone I tried to make a joke of it, but she did not see the humor in it.
After this incident, I got to think. Lately, I have become very comfortable with some people and have found myself slipping back into the gossip mode I had worked so hard to get myself out of. I sort of wonder if this was God's way of washing my mouth out with soap. I certainly didn't forget the taste when I was a kid.
I won't forget it now.
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