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).

Peanut Gallery

You're lucky when you have


You're lucky when you have someone whose judgment you can trust enough when you're doubting your own. And you're right about the financial risks - unless you've got a lot of spare cash your lack of funds will prevent you from losing too much. One guy gave me such a good story I gave him the $10 just for his dramatic performance. He undoubtedly needed the money for something, just probably not the story he gave me. (Car accident, wife in hospital, needed bus money, etc)

Its very hard to tell.

I find myself in this predicament sometimes too Scott. There was a similar case where this guy with a very small dog goes around and asks a mere $2 to apparently get his dog home. That excuse didn't sell in my books, so I didn't trust him. Since then I've seen this guy six times around the city using the same excuse to try to 'con' people for money.

I do think what you said really goes a long way. "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." But what do we trust? Whom do we trust? How do we know. I mean putting myself in the same shoes, suppose if I was stranded and no money and used the excuse: Can you help me, I am lost I need a way to get home that is all that I ask. I hope someone would help me. In turn shouldn't I do that for another if they ask me the same? Why is it that when it comes to "me" the rules are different than when it comes to another?

The most interesting story was when I went downtown one night and walking along. A homeless asked me for some money. He looked as though he had been feeding himself on alcohol and drugs. For some odd reason I told him, buddy I am a homeless myself now. To this he replied, I am sorry to hear that my friend, take this quarter we all share what we have. This is the first time this has ever happen and to that I gave him all that I had in my wallet that night. Which was not much it was only $7 bucks or something like that but just for his honesty and caring he deserved it.

Who to trust? Thats a good question... I guess trust is given until it is revoked by an act of dishonesty? Sure that works for me :)

BTW I wouldn't have given him $50. Just the whole situation seems kind of shady to me.

Thanks for the comment Nate!

Scott Hadfield

Thanks for the comment Nate! The thing about the con guy on the street was really just an example of how common dodgy people are out there.

And dude, that's a crazy story about the homeless guy. But yeah, a lot of people in the DTES are mentally ill (which is how they become homeless in the first place), and then get addicted to drugs later.

The big issues with trust come in when you need to enter into some form of transaction with the other person. Whether business or personal. But I do agree with given the person the benefit of the doubt (unless they're obviously dodgy) and then revoking the trust at the first sign of dishonesty.

Food not money, perhaps.

Good post about values, Scott. I get past the dilemma of giving money and what it may be used for, by sharing food I have or by buying the panhandler some, instead. Often if I'm munching on a bag of chips or a snack, I'll offer to share it with a homeless person, before they even ask for anything. So far, everyone has genuinely appreciated it and hasn't in turn asked for money.
Your sentiments about trust also applies to trusting people on any level, especially emotionally in any way kind of relationship, whether with strangers or partners.