I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of trust. What it means to trust someone or for someone to trust you, trust in new/foreign situations, and most importantly the risks associated with trusting or not trusting. Over the past two years or so of traveling Sam and I have been confronted with a lot of unfamiliar situations and unfamiliar people. Fortunately, both of us have a very good eye for spotting bad situations and if one of us misses something that's potentially off usually the other will catch it.
We've been lucky to have really only been "screwed", taken advantage of, conned, whatever you wanna call it, by only three people in the past two years. The most recent situation was the worst by far in terms of the stress and money involved and I suppose it's the reason I've been thinking more about this now.
If your gut is telling you something is wrong, listen to it. This is especially important if you're not in familiar territory (such as a foreign country, city, or even neighbourhood). There's been a few times I've ignored the feeling (usually for my own perceived convenience), and I generally end up regretting it.
Just this past weekend someone confronted me while I was walking back from the gym. He was supposedly an American and him and his friends had supposedly been robbed by a minibus driver. He needed roughly $50 to get back to where he was staying so that he could get some papers to take to the embassy (he'd call me to pay me back later, of course). He seemed legit and at first sign his story seemed legit too, so I was going to lend him the cash. Fortunately I didn't have any on me and my place was only a block away. I told him to wait while I went and grabbed it. After telling the story to Sam she pointed out a few things that clearly demonstrated it was most likely a scam. When we went out to find the guy again (to "help" him find a police station) he'd left.
There's a lot of people in the world who are willing to take advantage of you for financial gain (no matter how small). Most often these people are easy to spot, but the occasional one will slip past and you may very well get screwed in some form or another. While it takes a bit of effort it's very possible to go through life being constantly on guard and to always ensure that you're protected.
Today however, I consciously realized something about myself and the way I've chosen to live. It's better to put trust in people and risk losing out a bit financially rather than putting trust in no one and not losing a cent. The connections I've made and continue to make from trusting people first has been far more valuable than any cost I may have incurred trusting someone I shouldn't have.
And perhaps even more importantly, when someone puts themself in a vulnerable position to trust you (which happens a lot more than most people realize), be sure to reward them for it (even if only with a little kindness and respect).