Who’s Gonna Know?

It wasn’t a great night to be working on guitars.

In almost the same manner as I speak to the Lovely Lady most nights when I go out to exercise, my last words as I headed to a late night work session at the music store recently were, “I hate this!”

I hate this.

This was a job which had to be completed that night.  The beautiful vintage guitar had been brought in a couple of weeks before.  It could be put off no longer.

“You’ll need to put in a new selector switch,” were the words the owner said nonchalantly.

I had tried everything I knew to nurse the old switch back to working condition over the last week, but it was to no avail.  I would have to install a new one.  An easy job. Physically, at least.  Not so, the emotional cost.

The fifty-year-old Fender Telecaster awaited my ministrations.  I would do 66telebutcherywhat must be done. 

There must be a law against such things: New cloth patches on old robesnew wine in old wineskinsBe not unequally yoked…

My heart ached as I desoldered and then reattached the wires to the new 3-way switch.

The repair completed, I attempted to move to my next job, but my heart just wasn’t in it. 

This was a beautiful, modern, American-made guitar, and I merely needed to install a new pickup cover.  Again, an easy job, but somehow in the process, I broke a wire.  I never knew that until later, but instead, completed the installation and reassembled the instrument.  I polished the chrome cover, noticing the other metal parts had fingerprints on them.  Almost without thinking, I cleaned the entire instrument until it virtually gleamed under the lights of my workbench.  It was perfect!  What a great looking instrument!

Then I remembered I hadn’t yet checked the function, so I plugged the beautiful guitar into a nearby amplifier, thinking I might still have to make a minor adjustment or two.

No sound came.  None.

I had to completely disassemble the guitar once more, after which I searched for the culprit, finally finding the broken wire.  It was a tiny thing, not much larger than a human hair.

Two and a half thousands of an inch in diameter!  I had nicked it while securing the new cover.  Nicked it, yet it was completely useless in that condition.

I made the repair and moved on.  Covering the same ground I had already done, the instrument was put back together and tested, coming through with flying colors this time.  Polishing it again, I set it down into the case at my feet.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  Under my breath, I said (audibly), “Good.  He’ll never know what I did.”

I went home and went to bed.

I slept like I hadn’t seen a bed in a week.  No dreams.  No tossing or turning.

But, when the alarm clock went off the next morning, the first thought in my mind—the very first one— was of that tiny wire and the statement I had made as I placed the guitar back in its case.

He’ll never know…

He wouldn’t. 

I would.

I told him the whole story when he came to pick up his guitar.  He smiled and told me he’ll know who to blame when it stops working in about twenty years.  When he left, he left behind his good will and a thirty dollar tip.

He would have left the tip whether I had told him about the gaff or not.  I don’t think I could ever enjoy using that money if I had not told him the truth.  Lies have a funny way of disrupting your thoughts at the strangest times.

I have spent a lifetime listening to little lies—no—tiny lies.  I’ve even been encouraged to aid and abet in their perpetration.  Indeed, I have told my share of them.

No honey, I’m just at the grocery store picking up the bread you asked me to get.

You don’t have to charge any tax.  Just take the cash; I don’t need a receipt.

No, nobody played it.  It’s still brand new.

Miniscule lies.  No one hurt. Where’s the harm?

I wonder—How big a lie does it take to destroy trust?  How bad a falsehood may be told before a man is no longer considered honest?  How egregious does the untruth have to be to do away with integrity?

A wire, hardly bigger than a human hair, breaks and the entire guitar will not function.  The tiniest wire in the entire instrument.  If any of the other wires, ten times the diameter of that one, had broken, the result could not have been any worse.

A lie told hurts no one worse than it does the one from whose mouth it proceeds.  For the tiniest of lies, our integrity is forfeit, our trustworthiness thrown to the wind.

On the exterior the musical instrument was perfect, lacking nothing.  Hiding deep inside the heart of that fine guitar was one tiny defect.

We’re not so different.

It just takes one.




The Lord abhors a person who lies, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.
(Proverbs 12:22 ~ NET Bible)

One lie has the power to tarnish a thousand truths.
(Al David ~ American author)






© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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