Thursday, February 18, 2010

I choose to trust him....

A friend and I had gone to pick up our respective kids from a school function the other day. Traffic was particularly bad, and what should have been a one hour drive stretched into nearly three. We were exhausted by the time we got home, and all I wanted to do was to have a cold bath and stumble into bed.
“How much?”, I asked the cab driver, as we tumbled out.
“300 rupees”, he informed me.
“Do you have change for 500?”, I asked proffering a note of that denomination.
He checked in his wallet before informing me he did not. I looked at my friend, but she didn’t have. We pooled our money together, and found we had 280 rupees between us.
“Let’s give him that”, my friend suggested, but I overruled her.
“That’s not fair. He’s earned the money, how can we shortchange him?”
“But he is the one who should have change”, she insisted.
“He should. But he could as well expect us to have it”, I countered.
“Are you sure you don’t have change for 500”, I asked him. “Check again, because we don’t have enough money.”
“I don’t have change”, he insisted. “You are the first people I picked up today. I don’t carry so much money around with me all the time.”

It was leading to an impasse, and since I was reluctant to pay him less than his due, there was only one way out of the situation. I decided to trust him!
I held out the 500 rupee note. “Here, take this”, I said. “When you get change, give it back to me.”
“But..”, he began, but I cut him short. “I’m leaving for office now, but if you leave the change with the guard, he’ll give it to me.” I gave him my apartment number and got out.

“Are you mad?” My friend pounced on me the moment he was out of earshot. “You know you will never see that 200 rupees, don’t you?”
“I’m sure he’ll pay me back”, I replied. “By nature, human beings are honest. He knows I trust him, and will repay the trust.”
“In your idealistic world, maybe. But things don’t work in quite that manner in the real world”, she informed me.
“Maybe”, I shrugged. “I am sure he will pay me back. But even if he doesn’t, the money means more to him than to me.” Which was true. The money would have got me one and a half Mc Donalds Happy Meals; he would have had a sumptuous dinner for eight days on the sum.
“If you are feeling so benevolent, why don’t you donate the money to a charity?”, she asked, but I refused to rise to the bait.
“I choose to trust him. There is nothing else to it.”

For me, that was all there was to it. I believe in the intrinsic honesty of people, and was willing to risk a sum that I was prepared to lose. What would have been harder to lose was my faith in human nature.
What if he doesn’t return the money, I asked myself. Would I then lose faith in human beings?
No, I told myself. Even if he didn’t return the money, I should not lose faith in the entire race- one individual doesn’t represent the entire race, does he?

Five minutes later, when I came out of the building, after dropping my son off at Daycare, I saw the cab driver waiting for me with the correct change. Our eyes met for an instant, but that was enough to convey everything. The man hadn’t even thought about betraying my trust, because I had trusted him even though there was every reason for me not to.

I got my money back, but what came with it was far more precious- a vindication of my belief in the inherent goodness of people. And that was worth risking far more than the one and a half Happy Meals that I did risk for it.


Faith Pray said...

I may be kidding myself here, but I wonder if the more you give trust, the more trust is returned; the higher you raise the bar of respect to others, the greater their ability is to strive for it.

Anonymous said...

I love it! I'm with Faith, the more you trust the more trustworthy people become (on the whole). Your trust rewarded not only you - but also your driver, who I'm sure must have felt great to be trusted.

Al said...

What a lovely story.

I have always found in the work I do, that if you give trust almost everyone responds with trustworthy behaviour.
Having faith even in someone who has never been trusted usually pays off.

Helen Ginger said...

Giving trust begets trust. A great story. I'm so glad you shared it.

Straight From Hel

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Faith - I do agree with you. I think it is because I trusted the man that he felt compelled to return my trust. But that itself proves the intrinsic goodness of the man.

@ Fiona - to be honest, I hadn't thought about that. Had a stranger trusted me, I would have been really pleased too.

@ Al - it does, doesn't it? And why not? People are good in general- it is mostly circumstances that force them to behave otherwise.

@ Helen - thanks. And yes, it does.

Jan Morrison said...

Natasha - what a very good story...good to be trusting and so engender it...and VERY excellent not to be swayed by your friend's cynicism. On the Buddhist New Year last Sunday, our teacher said in his address that giving up was the very worst thing we can do. Worse than any sort of aggression even. I'm so glad you declined the invitation to give up on your fellow human being!

Enchanted Oak said...

I'm visiting today because you came by my place and gave me the most intriguing and reasonable comment on my mother's demented poem. This was a delightful story with a great ending, and it brought a smile to my face. Your faith in humanity, and mine as well, is intact, thank God.
Cheers, Chris from California

dipali said...

I'm so glad you trusted him:)
I do think trust begets trust, love begets love- and so on.
And we are fortunate in having enough to lose, if it so does happen that our trust is violated.

Doli said...

You are an amazing woman! I really commend your trust in the cab driver :) Felt I had to delurk for this lovely post! You restored my faith back in humanity :)

Watery Tart said...

I loved this, Natasha, and have possibly found a place where our twin-ness fails. You have a much more generous spirit than I do. I WANT to trust people, ARGUE to trust people, but following through in tangible terms is hard for me. I'm glad you had a chance to do this.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Thank you for sharing this story, it brought a smile to my face. I shall try to trust the goodness in people a little more - even though it flies in the face of my rather pessimistic nature!

Ann Elle Altman said...

Your story made me cry! I would like to think I would have done the same thing.

I would have told him to keep the 200 rupes because his actions gave me more faith in humans.

I would love to see India.

Also, did I tell you, I want you to take the From Me to You (Picasso) Award?

You can place it with your other awards.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Jan - I hope I never have to give up on anyone, let alone on all humanity. Thanks, for the message

@ Chris - it is wonderful to know you can still trust humanity, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by.

@ dipali - that is so true. We are lucky that we can afford to trust, so we really must do it more often.

@ Doli - thanks. And I know you because you often delurk. Each comment from you is precious, because it is so rare.

@ Tami - I am not sure if I would have trusted if the amount involved was greater. And I know that you do trust- isn't sending your novel to people for comments the greatest form of trust - even if the people you send it to are people who have earned your trust?

@ Elspeth - like someone commented right here, the more you trust, the more people try to live up to the trust you repose in them. Surprise yourself by putting a small bit of trust in a stranger once- you may end up learning a lot about yourself and others.

@ Ann - I didn't want to make anyone cry. Because all I have been doing since that happened is smile- smile, because when I see anyone I see a person worthy of trusting.


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