Friday, May 9, 2008

Its a matter of trust


"How hard it is, sometimes, to trust the evidence of one's senses! How reluctantly the mind consents to reality."
Norman Douglas

When I used to open the door for courier guys I was cautious. Having read too many incidents in newspapers of how criminals pose as courier delivery guys to enter into homes and loot, rape, murder the residents. The targets are women who most often than not are alone at home in the afternoons.

Yet, sometimes, as long as it happens to be a newspaper story, after a period of time one tends to forget them. Laxity increases and the danger though omnipresent does not surface until a new story appears in newspapers.

Newspaper stories seem too far away...like it happened to ‘them’; can’t happen to ‘us’.

A few months ago, we heard about a woman who was murdered in her own apartment in Mumbai by a man who posed as a courier boy and was hand-in-glove with the servant of the house (who as almost all cases show, was recently hired). The lady in question happened to be the mother of the man who runs the company my husband used to work for.

That was the closest the horror of such a tragedy ever got to us. We were alert for a few days but are back to our lax days again.

However, the point I am trying to make out of this post is the complete lack of faith one human has in another. We cannot trust anybody. The milkman because he could mixing urea in the milk, the rickshaw driver who always asks more than he deserves as a matter of right, your maid because she may be stealing from right under your nose, your boss because he may be jeopardising your next promotion behind your back, your doctor who may be charging you an exorbitant consultancy and so on and so forth...and of course, your courier guy as well.

Our lack of trust is ingrained so deep that when I am flagged by a traffic cop (especially when I haven’t violated a traffic rule) I am certain that his intention is to take a bribe. It may not be the case every time. And yet, I mentally condition myself to take him on, if he proposes that I pay him an amount without issuing a proper challan/receipt.

So imagine my surprise when the courier guy (yep...had to be him; he triggered this post) handed the envelope to me this afternoon and said, “Madam, I have a request.” For a second I contemplated closing the door chain first and talking to him through it (what if he was making conversation with me to buy time?) But I did not, and said, “Hmm?” He said, “I need Rs 30 because my vehicle has got punctured.”

Now this is the critical part. Principally I would not mind helping a person in need. But this young man was wearing a handkerchief that covered half his face (I know Pune is a polluted city and all, but he should have taken it off while talking to me at least??!!!)How was I to trust him?

And yet, I did. I closed the door momentarily, fetched my wallet and gave him the money. He promised that he would return it in a few days because, “I keep coming to the building often.”

Now I am wondering, should I be glad that he wants to return the money...or should I be scared that he may be back and that’s not a good sign? Or should I have just refused to give him the money in the first place???

Didn’t I just say that it’s getting more and more difficult for one human to trust one another?

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