I’ve been burned before, we all have. And I can even think of people that I have wronged. I look back on these my actions and don’t feel I was purposely deceiving, but then, the people who have wronged me don’t feel that way either. That bothers me. Maybe I’m just justifying my mistakes.
Years ago I owned a small business and hired a seemingly well-balanced guy as my office manager. Over the months, I began to regard him as a friend. When my bank account started running surprisingly low, I audited the books and found he had been embezzling from me. A discovery that packed both an emotional and financial sting. For a month my friend had been smiling to my face and taking money from behind my back. When the cops arrested him he claimed he had done nothing wrong and that he had intended to pay the money back.
At another job, several high valued items of inventory turn up missing (quarter of a million bucks worth). The manager of that department reported to me and I worked with him to find out what happened. My boss didn’t trust him at all and suggested he was a thief, but I defended him. I wanted to trust him. As the investigation heated up, he finally came into my office one morning and confessed to taking all of it. I was stunned. Again, I was an idiot, right? Gullible and trusting when I shouldn’t have…I felt like a putz.
I have more examples, and I won’t even go into relationship betrayals. But believe me when I say I carry some deep wounds there. But in terms of trust, I not only carry wounds from the people who let me down, I have wounds from the regrets I have for people that didn’t get the proper treatment from me. I’m determined not to make the same mistakes in the future.
There have been times I get in a risky situation where my logic says I’m being an idiot again. But at the same time, another part of me says…no, trust them. I suppose some of us always trust, some of us never do, and figuring out where to draw the line will define whether we are alone forever or whether we get taken for everything we have. I want to trust people. Sometimes so much that thought of being betrayed is less painful than not being able to trust. I’d rather take the chance because it sure feels good when you trust somebody and they come through for you.
Several weeks ago on a cold icy morning, a white sedan spun down a show packed road into my almost new Rav4 (the only brand new car I’ve ever purchased). It put a dent in the hood and dinged the bumper. It made me sick. I hate when things break…especially new things…especially new expensive things. A man jumped out of the car and ran (slipping and sliding on the ice) over to make sure we were okay.
I didn’t see any damage was ready to drive off when he said, “you should take my information anyways ‘cause you never know what you might find later.” Then we got talking and looking at the car and noticed a scratch in the hood. Nothing huge, but clearly was going to cost to fix.
He didn’t want to go through his insurance, his eighteen year old son had had a couple fender benders and another claim would ding him on his policy. He said he’d pay for this on his own, gave me all his information, and I went home. As I drove, I felt a bit of a knot in my stomach. Was I going to get stuck with fixing this myself? I hadn’t written down witnesses (there were plenty, even a policeman stuck in the snow not twenty feet away). This guy had a good feel about him, but still…I felt nervous.
We talked several times over the next week. He always returned my calls quickly as we worked to sort it all out. One weekend I had a hard time getting a hold of him and started to feel stressed, but then he called and sounded horrible. He’d been sick for a few days. I had to wait for his bonus check, which added to my apprehension. But all the while I rested my concerns on the good feeling I had about him. He struck me as a genuine, honest guy.
We got the quote, which was a lot higher than either of us expected. I really felt bad for him, having to spend that much cash. I know how tough money comes for families. It took a few weeks, but I’m picking up my Rav today. He took in a check and paid the repair bills himself. He’s driven me to work and picked me up three days in a row now, because my car is in the shop. He was even willing to drop my son off to school and made sure I knew that if I needed to go anywhere during the work day he’d give me a ride or let me use his car. It’s been a pleasure to chat with him as we have commuted together and I’d even go so far as to say I’ve made a new friend.
Like I said earlier, I’ve wronged people before, not anything illegal or anything I’d consider major, but I’ve done things I regret. When people screw me over, it challenges my ability to do what I feel is the honest thing, all the time. It’s hard sometimes to shake off the ugly world feeling those experiences give me. But when I have experiences like this, it really helps me strengthen that commit inside to be true to myself and true to the people around me. It is sure nice to run into people who have high moral standards. Sure, I’ve been burned before and I’ll get burned again. But it’s a small price to pay for the great feeling of trusting that there are good people in the world.