*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
In the days before the advent of a cell phone in every pocket and the Internet on every cell phone, I took my phone calls on a landline tethered to the wall of my parents' kitchen. It was heavy, beige, and even had a rotary dial.
Caller ID hadn't been invented yet, either. When the phone rang, I had to make a judgment call, weighing the risks of answering an unwanted call against the rewards of picking up the phone and hearing someone I actually wanted to talk to on the other end of the line.
When the phone rang one summer day, I answered it. The phone call was not what I expected.
The woman on the other end of the line introduced herself as the recently dumped ex-girlfriend of the man I was currently dating. Awkward.
She was reasonably kind and composed, considering the circumstances. My boyfriend had left her for me. She could have been more vindictive.
Instead, she cited the girl code and told me all his secrets. To be more specific, she told me all about the lies my boyfriend had told her when they were together. She asked whether he had told me the same stories, which he had, and then she debunked them one by one.
I don't remember whether I was polite or rude, but I'm sure I was more of the former than the latter. I recognized she was just trying to do me a favor. Besides, as far as I could tell, every word she said was true.
He'd lied about everything from his age to being related to a famous celebrity with the same last name. Then there were the lies about other women. Those were plentiful.
By the time his ex-girlfriend and I ended our phone conversation, I felt sick. I didn't appreciate her warning. I barely even listened. In the end, I should have listened better.
Our relationship didn't end well. Just as she predicted.
In hindsight, I'm thankful for her call. If she hadn't warned me about the lies he told, my heart would have surely been broken a lot worse and a lot sooner.
That phone call taught me an important lesson: Trust your gut. Listen carefully to what people say and how they say it. You don't need caller ID to know when a person is telling the truth.
It's up to us to take the time to listen and trust our gut even when it seems like the less complicated option would be to just ignore it.
People are full of stories, but not all stories are worth believing. We must use our intuition, compassion, and discernment to determine which ones to listen to and which ones to disregard.
The next time you answer the phone or have an unexpected conversation, take a moment to pause and listen with an open heart. It may just save you from making the same mistakes I did.
Has someone ever tried to warn you about a bad situation? Comments are welcome.