July 21, 2000 (Ira Pilgrim)


You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don't trust enough.

Frank Crane

All of the interactions between people are based on trust. When you read about violations of trust by companies or individuals it is because what makes something news is that it doesn't happen very often. The old saying applies that when a dog bites a man that's not news, but when a man bites a dog, that's news. I know that in any single day I have many transactions that require trust between me and the person I am interacting with. When I say to my wife that I will do something, she knows that, baring accidents, I will do it and the same thing goes for the things that she does. I can call up any of a number of businesses and order things. With local outfits, that's all that I have to do. With other businesses, I give them my credit card number. I can tell my bank, on the telephone, to transfer money from one account to another. In that case, I am dealing with a computer that doesn't know how to lie and cheat. There are a few businesses that a do business with where all that I have to do is tell them what I want and that does it.

A person is in greater danger of being swindled by an enterprise that expects to deal with you only once, such as a used car salesman or someone who sells real estate. There are, of course, salesmen and realtors who want you come back and can be trusted. You are on safe ground with a merchant who wants your continuous business. Any business that people patronize often, such as banks, grocers or department stores guard that trust meticulously; they have to, in order to stay in business. You hear a lot about people being swindled on the internet. There is nothing about the internet that makes this more possible, other than its speed. I have done business with internet vendors and have, in almost every case, been quite satisfied. The few times when I was not, have been dealt with by the company to my satisfaction.

The times when I have felt violated have been when I fell for a "free" offer or something at a price that was too good to be true. There is an old saying that "you can't cheat an honest man." This is explained by the fact that an honest man knows that you can't get something for nothing and when someone offers him something for free, that it is probably a swindle. The honest person will refuse the offer. This also goes for rebates. People who try to get a lot for almost nothing often get swindled, whether it is by a person, a slot machine or a lottery ticket.

Next to violent crime, betrayal of trust is serious business. When someone betrays your trust you feel violated. Marital infidelity usually provokes great anger. When a trust is violated by a loved one, it provokes extreme hurt, which often translates into extreme anger. This is frequently translated into divorce, and rarely into murder.

Once a trust has been violated it takes a long time before the person who violated the trust will be trusted again. Sometimes that person will never be trusted again, regardless of the passage of time. A business that betrays your trust will never get your business again and if it does it to many people, it will fail because of a lack of customers.

A person who has been robbed or swindled feels betrayed and hurt, even if it is by a total stranger. Anyone who has lived in the world for a while knows better than to trust someone he doesn't know. While the vast majority of people are trustworthy, the few who aren't make the world a fairly perilous place. Even though it is rare, there is always a danger of being robbed, assaulted or even killed by a stranger. The more people, the greater the danger.

I have found that I have only had my trust betrayed occasionally and it has hurt. However, I have gotten much more by trusting people. Suspicion can destroy a person's peace of mind, while trust enhances it. There are some people I would trust with my life and some I would trust with my money or property. I trust strangers only when there is nothing very valuable or important involved. There are a few people I wouldn't trust to tell me the correct time.

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