On trusting blindly–or other people watching our stuff

Strangers shopI was sitting alone at a table in a local coffee shop, working on my laptop while listening to music with my head phones on.  Her slight touch on my shoulder almost startled me, and would have if I hadn’t seen her approach out of the corner of my eye.

“I’m sorry to bother you.  Would you mind watching my stuff for just a minute while I use the restroom?”

“Of course!  No problem!”

And that was that.  An easy thing to do.  No problem.

Then I got to thinking.  Why would she ask me to watch her things?  That MacBook Air is at least a thousand dollar computer; not to mention any important, irreplaceable documents she might have stored on it.  Why ask me?  Why ask anybody?  Do I look that trustworthy?

Come to think of it, I do the same thing sometimes.  I’ll ask a complete stranger to watch my things while I see a man about a horse.  Is it a wise thing to do?  Probably not.

I think what it comes down to is that we want to be able to trust people.  We want to be able to believe that everyone we come in contact with actually believes that following “The Golden Rule” is a good way to go–Do unto others and all that.

I heard a story once from a guy who was in Vienna with his wife.  He and his new bride were from the States and were on vacation in Europe; a belated honeymoon.  They came to St. Stephens church in the middle of the historic downtown when a stranger came up to them and, seeing the camera around the husband’s neck, asked the visiting couple in his broken English if they wanted him to take a picture of the two of them in front of the cathedral.

The husband said, “Sure!  That would be great!”

So the stranger took the camera and started to back up as he looked through the lens, instructing the couple where and how to stand.

“Let me back up more.  I’ll get church better, ” he said.

So, the stranger backed up and backed up until he finally turned and ran away with the camera, never to be seen again.

What struck me when I heard that story was how I was completely with the guy while he was telling it.  Yeah, dude, of course.  You wanted a picture, yeah.  You gave him your camera, sure.  Then what happened?

It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

I’m not sure if I ever want to give up that feeling.

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