Posted by: Rob | May 14, 2008

A Matter of Trust

Trust seems to have pretty much gone the way of the passenger pigeon in our modern society.  I was reminded of this the other day.  I had telephoned to one of the area Brick* stores.  The social club at my employer has wrangled a deal where we can get certificates to buy home furnishings and appliances at “wholesale”.  We have to deal with the Corporate Sales people, though, but we thereby avoid the retail sales people on the floor.  As I spoke to the Corporate Sales rep, I described my situation (i.e. my “right” to access Corporate Sales) and outlined what it was I was looking for in the way of new kitchen appliances.  I was told the prices (marginally less than current sales prices, but enough to cover the sales tax) and asked if I could do the transaction over the phone.  Well, no.  Apparently I was “a voice over the  phone” and since she “didn’t know who I was”, I would have to go in to one of the stores and pay for my purchase there.

A far cry from earlier days.  Days when your word was your bond.  I was surprised when we moved down to SE Kansas at how easy it was to conduct business.  Businesses were willing to take your personal cheque.  No problem at all.  Even charge purchases were possible.  I was a little taken aback to hear things like, “That’s okay.  I know who you are.” from people I had never really met.

I like being able to do personal business like that.  The “personal” touch.  To be able to call up a business on the phone and not have them fret and worry about whether or not you would ever show up to pick up and pay for what you were asking them to get.  To be able to transact purchases over the phone without the paranoia about whether or not you were really the bona fide credit card holder.

I wonder now, would it be possible to re-create that lost aspect of our lives?  That kind of innocence?  That trust and faith in your fellow man?  Or have we gone too far down the road of suspicion and paranoia?  Have too many people been screwed over, chewed up and spit out to ever want to go back to trusting?  If it’s true it’s a shame.

Maybe some day I can be part of the creation of a small community founded on basic tenets and principles like these.  Just a place for wholesome family living where you don’t have to be worried about somebody stealing your kid, your wallet, your stuff.  Criminals, thieves and other ne’er-do-wells would need not apply.





* The Brick is an Alberta based home furnishing retail chain.



  1. It is funny to look at the differences in generations alone. My parents were early risers; they got to work early every day. When I’m not late, I get here right on time.

    Though, I still feel like my word is my bond. If I tell you I’m going to do, I’ll do it. However, I run into people all the time who make promises just to get you off of their back.

    In recently reading a book about Confederate General Robert E Lee, I read that he originally refused to lend his name to Washington and Lee College, as he didn’t think it was right to take money for work he didn’t do. They had to actually give him a job with responsibilities or he wouldn’t do it.

    No matter how bad you think it is in Canada, I can guarantee it is worse here in the states. Honesty and integrity is in very short supply. People will literally do anything to anybody for money.

  2. unfortunately I think those halcyon days are long gone Rob.

    your allusion to the passenger pigeon reminded me of The Handsome Family’s song about this subject. have you ever heard it?

  3. I think you’d have to travel to some lonely town with a hundred people to find that kind of trust. And I bet there’d still be some issues. I, too, am sorry to see those days go by.

    And Uncle Keith is too right–here in the states, cynicism is a religion (with apologies to Keitholicism).

  4. UK: We seem to be somewhat alike in our punctuality habits when it comes to work. In my case, all I can say is the job does not excite, thus it does not pull me out of bed in the morning. Life is just too full of other (better) stuff to do, you know? Still, I do try to give a fair day’s work for a day’s pay.

    nursemyra: I have not heard of either The Handsome Family or the song you mention. I listened to a short clip on-line and will try to find a copy of the CD to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion!

    thegnukid: That’s exactly it! I want to start that town!

  5. I refuse to live a life predicated by fear, so my kids play outside without direct supervision, I leave them in the car if I have a short errand to run, I don’t lock my house doors unless I leave the house, and so forth… I get a lot of criticism from a variety of folks about this sort of behaviour, but I do run into other people who are more generous-spirited and trusting than I am. A lot of them come from Salt Spring Island, or other earthy locales. Maybe y’all need to head further west…



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