Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Integrity's a Bitch

Integrity is one of those things everyone says they have and respect. Hope, honor, loyalty, chewing with your mouth closed--these are all just words. We tend to word-rape them a lot, too, for papers, discussions, arguments, etc. It's a rare moment when we are actually put inside the literal concepts.

Something you should know about me--there are two aspects of my soul that are in constant conjunction. They are two broad pillars that have remained within me from infancy. One is the fact that I abhor dishonesty. I cannot deal with deceit and lies. The second is how I ALWAYS stick up for my friends. Always. Loyalty to my friends is practically the Gospel of my soul. These tenants, loyalty and honesty have always worked well with each other. But recently, I was put in a situation where I had to choose between the two.

I lived in an apartment complex last year, two different ones for fall and spring semester. I had serious issues with my first batch of roommates--the issues going along the line of them being lying bitches who felt I should pay the majority of the electric bill because I 'supposedly' left on more lights than anyone else--so that's why I didn't have a year long lease at that apartment. My second batch of roommates were a lot better. I made friends with the two girls and even kind of sort of dated the male roommate for a month or two.

No judging.

Now I live in a house, a cute two-bedroom house with my darling roommate whom I shall call Sun. I shall call her Sun because Sun was one of my favorite characters on Lost and my new roommate is also one of my favorite people.

Plus they're both from South Korea.

Moving right along, I recently got the account balance from the apartment complex. There were little tiny charges that they knocked me for and I didn't mind so much. This was a very CHEAP complex so I pretty much figured from the beginning they were going to fine me and my other roommates for whatever they possibly could. But there was one fee that was completely outrageous. It was a 400 dollar flee treatment fine.

Wait, what?!

Now I do have a cat. I also have a desire to bring my cat to my university. This however, is a bad idea because my cat is very old and wouldn't deal with the transition well. So I never brought him to my apartment. My other roommates, however, had five cats. FIVE cats, all together. And unfortunately, one of them had this really bad habit of letting her cats roam around outside when she took them home and eventually they gave the whole place fleas. She was also a bit of a compulsive liar. And she told the complex that I also had a pet, so I should pay the fine as well.

Uh, no.

I did NOT have a pet there. I DID however, watch Sun's cat for about three weeks before taking him home with me for the summer. Sun's cat came to me flea-free (with documentation from the animal hospital he stayed at) and wasn't even there with me for half of my lease. Not even for a third of my lease.

I called management, they told me they had spoken with all of my roommates (which was not true, they'd only spoken to ONE, the compulsive liar) and they'd said that I had a cat. I explained my situation with Sun's cat and pointed out that the other two girls had five cats all together. The management lady went, "Five?!" because five cats running around a tiny apartment without their knowledge is sort of a big deal. I believe only two of these cats were registered.

After a while, I ran into my other roommate, my friend, who was not the compulsive liar. I'll call her...LC. Because she really loves The Hills. LC was furious about the fine too, because she'd taken care of her cats and found it grossly unfair that she had to pay for my other roommate's idiocy. I suggested going to the complex and speaking with them and we both made plans to do so the next morning.

That day, I met her at the complex. We strode in and laid out the situation for the manager lady, who I'll call...Manager Lady. Manager Lady promptly asked LC in all honesty, if she had ANY cats from the duration of her lease to the finish.

LC looked her in the eye and said no.

I didn't know coming in that she would lie straight to their faces. Not knowing what else to do, I backed up what she said, agreeing with her which confused Manager Lady even further because two weeks ago I'd said there were five cats roaming around. Manager Lady told me she did find it unfair for me to pay the fine and they were going to lift it for me but if we didn't get our stories straight, we'd all have to pay. LC and I left.

I drove home.

I began to pace my house. This wasn't right. I could not make my family pay this fine. LC and I would lose this fight. I felt sick to my stomach. There was this agonizing gut-wrenching feeling in my abdomen. I tried to distract myself. I popped in a movie and immediately popped it out. I thought about reading a C.S Lewis book--definitely a bad idea. I thought, What would C.S Lewis do?

Well, I knew what C.S Lewis would do. I'd go to his house, he'd make me a cup of tea, I'd explain the situation to him.

C.S Lewis: Well my dear, what do you think God would want you to do?

Me: Can't we leave God out of this?

C.S Lewis: Have you forgotten who you're talking to?

Me: Oh yeah. Right. So, you think I should go back there.

*C.S Lewis takes a sip of tea and says nothing, but still gives me a raised eyebrow*

Me: But I don't want to! Why on earth would they believe me? I already lied by backing up LC.

*C.S Lewis takes another sip of tea*


C.S Lewis: You KNOW what to do. You're just avoiding it by pretending to have a conversation with me. I've been dead for forty years, remember?


I basically told LC that if the complex called I wouldn't lie again. What I didn't tell her was that I got back in my car, drove back to the complex, waited in the lobby for thirty minutes, and spoke to Manager Lady again. I was literally shaking. I told her that I'd been put in a situation where I had to choose between sticking up for a friend and following my conscience. I'd made the wrong choice. I apologized and told the truth, that LC did have three cats. Manager Lady was actually very cool with me. She told me she'd lifted the fine for me and they knew LC had lied because during maintenance checks they'd seen the five cats. I went hope feeling immediately better. The gut-killing feeling was gone.

However, the complex apparently called LC and told her what I'd done. She told me in no uncertain terms that she never wanted to speak to me again and didn't need people like me in her life.

I hated having her mad at me. I hated having to put aside my loyalty to my friends. I really, really hated having that awful streak of integrity inside me. Integrity is a total bitch and definitely made me its bitch. But I think the point of it all, is that if I have to compromise myself for a friend, then that's not right.

My friends all sent me comforting texts. So did my wonderful family. Sun took me out to dinner. It's good to know that I do have people who love me even when I make that annoying right choice.

It's also good to have C.S Lewis as your imaginary friend.

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