KENTUCKY (6/23/13) - Whenever someone says, “Trust me,” I start looking for the door, or at least a wall to back up against. Experience has taught me that too much pain, too many betrayals, and too many knives in the back have resulted from that innocuous little invitation. So, generally I say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll handle this myself.”
I suspect my penchant for independence puts me in broad company. Multitudes of us have been harmed by those who gave us birth and those we have birthed. Our spouses, business associates, significant others, and supposed best friends have betrayed us. Politicians, pastors, priests, and partners have done nothing but disappoint us.
Many of us have been deceived and double-crossed by almost everyone we ever had confidence in, and we are left with a case of trust-aversion; no cure is soon in the offing. But sometimes, as damnable as it is, we have to trust others, and put our wellbeing in their hands – even perfect strangers – and that’s not easy. But as Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.”
Case in point: My family and I made a trip last summer to the Midwest. We stopped for lunch in the hulking megalopolis that is Carmi, Illinois, population 5,240. Most of these people must be scarecrows, because the only thing we saw there was a sandwich shop, a gas station, and cornfields – miles and miles of cornfields.
I’ll not bore you with the gory details, except to say it was my fault; while munching on sandwiches, our little dog locked himself in the rental van. This meant he locked us out. I tried to coax that little Shih Tzu over to the door locks for nearly an hour, but he was so enjoying the air conditioning, he wouldn’t budge.
Finally, I admitted I couldn’t fix it. I went back inside the restaurant and told the lady making sandwiches that I needed a locksmith, knowing that one would probably have to come all the way from Peoria bearing a four-digit bill with him. She said, “You don’t need a locksmith! I’ll call my friend, Rick. Trust me on this.” I cringed, but what choice did I have?
Rick showed up in five minutes, walking right out of the cornfields like Kevin Costner, and for $20 and the words, “Trust me” (There it was again!), had us in the van quicker than you can say “Carmi.” I kissed the sandwich maker, tipped Rick an extra $40, and we jumped back on the road with all the fear and tension replaced by grateful laughter.
Then we had a tire blowout on the rental van in a place even more remote than Carmi. Our eight hour joy drive devolved into a twenty-hour living hell, and frankly, I never want to see another rental van or Illinois cornfield ever again.
Still, it could have been worse. Where would my family and I have been without the sandwich maker who knew just who to call; without Rick, and his enterprising, door-jimmying abilities; without the customer service rep at the car rental agency who told me over the phone, “Trust me (Again!); it’s going to be okay”?
It would have been an even more rotten experience without the unknown, unnamed person who wrote the rental van manual, explaining where to find the infernal spare tire; without the young man at a tire service center in Mt. Vernon, Illinois who was the epitome of kindness; and there was the waitress, who at the diner when it was all over, seemed to understand that ice cream makes all disasters just a bit more tolerable.
All along the way I met people – honest, good people – who asked only for my confidence, and they would do their best to make things right. That confidence was not disappointed, and I learned an invaluable lesson: You have to trust a few people every now and then, even when it goes against your self-reliance, if you are going to make it safely home.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.
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