I was in the auto parts store buying the glue to glue on a rearview mirror. This is the second or third time. I chuckled when I read the package, “permanent” was in bold print. I paid for the supplies and was turning to go out of the store when the man behind the counter spoke to a couple that was walking out of the store. They had been in line in front of me and I had not seen what they bought. They had been lingering by the door looking at their package.

The worker said, “If that does not fit, it will be wrong.” My eyebrows betrayed my inner thoughts. I was trying to not react. I was in the store with my son and we did not make eye contact. We were essentially eavesdropping on their conversation. The statement rolled around in my head. I got out of the store and saw the corners of my sons mouth turned up as he pursed his lips. We got in the car and both laughed and blurted out the statement at the same time.

I have tried to reconstruct the sentence to find an angle which explains a deeper meaning. It seems so obvious, “not fitting” is a synonym for “wrong.” Why did he need to say this? What was he trying to say? Could it be that a part could go on and not fit exactly but be close enough to try to ignore? Then the ignoring turns into a bigger problem over time?

Sometimes we make little compromises which in and of themselves do not seem to be a pig problem. We just plow on assuming no one will notice. We say something that is slightly true and shade the truth. Then that new narrative takes hold. We look better, another looks worse, but we do not set the record straight. We go most of the way to make something right, but then hold back the most crucial step. We make a half apology. Over time the truth keeps bubbling to the surface. “If that does not fit” is the present tense. If we don’t do the right thing now. “It will be wrong, “ is the future tense, it will have consequences. We build our future bit by bit.