Trust is a two-way street, and it is very hard for some people to trust each other. “If I am capable of no-good, then you must be, too.” But just as people are generally distrustful of everybody, they also tend to be too trustful at times. All of us are forced to put our trust in people who are responsible for our very lives and our common safety. We trust bus and cab drivers, chauffeurs, train engineers, airplane and ship pilots to get us where we want to go safely. We constantly eat out in restaurants and trust that the food we order is prepared under safe and sanitary conditions, which applies also to the processed food items that we buy in stores. We don’t know any of these people behind the scenes. Are they all really looking after our best interests? Why should they even care?
Gaining people’s trust is how crooks and con artists and other evildoers are able to operate. Those grifters don’t really steal people’s money. They charm and talk you into willingly giving it to them. So then they haven’t committed any crime. It’s not wrong to accept money from somebody, given freely. These people don’t do what they do out of financial necessity. They could get a real job, if they chose to. It’s all just a game with them, with losers and winners at stake. In Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), for example, there were three cons who were all trying to get over on each other. The one who ultimately won “the game” by conning the other two, admitted to them that it was the most fun she ever had. We often hear someone complain, “But I trusted him, and he betrayed me!” Always keep in mind that you can be betrayed only by someone that you trust.
Here is a situation that I find to be worthy of consideration. You are in a waiting room somewhere, at the airport or train station, perhaps, and you need to go somewhere for a moment. So you ask the person whom you’ve been sitting next to, and whom you don’t know from Adam, to watch your bags and stuff until you get back. Now when this happens to me or when I witness it with others, it always occurs to me, from whom are we being asked to guard this person’s belongings? Are they worried that some random thief will walk up from somewhere and just start going through a person’s things or otherwise run off with it when we are sitting there right next to it? They would probably think that the stuff belongs to the person there watching it or to someone they know. I would be more concerned about this stranger that I asked to watch my stuff, since they are the one who has direct access to it and who could pilfer something without anybody being suspicious. Just because you are sitting next to someone in a waiting room doesn’t automatically absolve them from being a thief. The person that you just gave permission to guard your bags may be the very one to be wary of! They may be in possession of stolen goods right then and there. I never ask anybody to watch my stuff for me. Either I take my chances and just hope that it will be safe, or I take it with me. I am not as trusting as other people tend to be.
Another case in point. While at a disco in Cape Town, South Africa, my friend and colleague, Michael, requested that a perfect stranger standing on the sidelines hold his fanny pack containing his new camera and some other important items, while he was out on the dance floor. When he later sought out the guy to reclaim his property, the man had fled the premises with Michael‘s stuff! Later he was telling people that somebody stole his camera. I would always correct him. “No, Michael. That man did not take your camera from you. You gave it to him!“ Take some responsibility. Did Michael actually think that since the guy was white, he could be trusted with his property? “Sure, I’ll hold that for you. In fact, I’ll keep it for you!” I think he learned his lesson that night.
Airport baggage handlers have been known to go through passengers’ luggage and take things out. It has happened to me more than a few times. If I know that a certain item was in my bag when I checked it, but it’s not there when I claim it later at my destination, what am I supposed to think happened to it? Did it just disappear in transit? Important mail that I have sent has been illegally opened and retained by unknown postal workers. The mail goes through many hands before it’s delivered. Who can you specifically blame unless they are actually caught in the act?
The use of video surveillance has become a necessity now. Individuals have been caught in the act committing bodacious acts of thievery and vandalism. Besides the rampant employee theft that goes on everywhere, it occurs in people’s homes from their housekeepers and other visiting servicepersons as well. We’ve seen young children being mistreated by their babysitters and caregivers. Parking attendants steal things from your car and even take your vehicle out for joyrides. There is virtually nothing some people won’t do when they think that nobody is watching them.
Realize, too, that the concept and implementation of contracts and other signed documents are based on people’s personal distrust of each other. We all know that a verbal agreement is not worth the paper on which it’s printed. We want everything in writing and notarized to protect ourselves from other people’s potential dishonesty or injustice. It’s not enough to assure someone that you will repay a bank or some other corporate loan. You are required to put up some kind of collateral of equal value, just in case you don’t or cannot pay it back.
A marital, prenuptial agreement is another obvious indication of mistrust. What about those story plots where the lovers are scheming to get rid of the spouse of one of them? “Darling, I’m going to kill my wife so that we can be together.” “That’s nice, dear. But how do I know that in a year or so you won’t get tired of my ass and want to kill me, too?” I can’t trust a person who I know has wronged someone, because they are liable to do the same to me. “Oh, I’m not worried about that. He loves me.” Yeah, he probably loved his wife, too, once upon a time, before he decided to murder her!
Some buildings here in the City and elsewhere require you to sign in upon entering. What is the purpose of that, please? Some have suggested that it is for “security reasons,” that if something happens, they have a record of whom was there at the time. But if there are a hundred signatures on the list, that doesn’t narrow down the culprit. And if someone is in the building to steal something or up to some other no-good, they’re not going to sign their real name(s) anyway, so that guard still is not going to know who to blame. So you can see that that sort of signing in is an unnecessary and pointless annoyance, in my opinion. Moreover, what good is a so-called security guard when they are not impervious to physical harm. They can be subdued or even killed by a perpetrator just like anyone else.
I’ve seen this common scenario. A man witnesses a murder and is badly injured and is admitted to the hospital. The police need him to testify, and as his life has been threatened, they want to protect him from being killed until the trial. So they post an officer (one, mind you!) outside his room in the hospital. But what good is that when the cop just let that nurse or some other hospital personnel, who may be an imposter, go into the witness’ room alone, who then proceeds to kill him?! How are you watching them out in the hall outside of the room? Why not put someone inside the room as well, in case they get in through a window or some other means? If you want to protect somebody from harm, you have to stay with them every second. But even that may not be enough. You have to go to the restroom or get a drink of water at some point. The coffee offered the guard could be drugged with something, even the pizza he has delivered might be poisoned. So the guard can be killed just as easily as the intended target.
I have been required to serve on jury duty in New York a few times, and they now have very tight security in all the court buildings. It’s just like the airports. They have metal detectors and make a thorough search of the belongings of everyone who enters the buildings. That is, everyone except the attorneys and other court officials, which, in my opinion, is discriminatory and prejudicial in itself. If they are going to check some people, they should check everyone, regardless of who they are, no exceptions. If they think that a regular citizen off the street might be packing heat, then those lawyers and judges could be as well. And who could get away with sneaking a firearm into the courtroom but someone who knows that they won’t be searched upon entrance? We regular folks know better than to do it because we know that it will be confiscated.
And somebody tell me, please, what is the purpose of allowing bailiffs to carry loaded pistols while in the courtroom? What do they need it for? Whom do they plan on shooting? The weapons are not even concealed either, just right there in the holster in plain sight of all present. What is preventing some deranged, desperate person there from getting the gun away from the officer and using it to shoot somebody themself? I’m sure that has happened more than once. People often get shot and killed with their own gun. Such hypocrisy! No guns in the court building should apply to everyone, regardless. No exceptions!
They don’t even allow anyone to take cameras and cellphones up to the courtrooms. Firearms are okay, apparently, but not cameras and phones. I just happen to carry my camera and phone with me at all times, at least when I have my shoulder bag. So they confiscate my items at the door, make me fill out a form and say that they will return them to me when I leave. Now, the problem that I have with that is that even though I have assured the security guard that I have no intention of using them, he does not trust me to let me take them in with me. But he expects me to trust him to hold them for me while I’m there. I mean, neither of us knows each other, but he is automatically presuming that I am a liar and a criminal while I am forced to trust him with my personal property, just because he is a hired security guard. That’s not fair, is it? What, none of them ever lie or steal? I don’t know that for sure. I did not hire them for that job or check into their background or credentials.
I don’t quite understand the objection to cell phones. Many own these smartphones now that are basically mini-computers. Instead of confiscating them, they could just instruct visitors not to use them in the courtroom. While on jury duty, there is a lot of waiting around time. We are put in the holding area for hours sometime before being called to be interviewed for jury selection. Plus, there are intermittent breaks throughout the day and time out for lunch. All this extra time could be used to do work, read, surf the internet, make calls, play games, whatever it is you do on your phone. If they don’t want people to take pictures, then just tell them not to do that. Then if they disobey, confiscate their phone as a punishment. Everyone should not be penalized.
The managers of stores that require us to check our bags at the door apparently are presuming that we all are there to steal from them. How do we know for sure that their checkers are not going through our bags while we are shopping? I am not watching them every second. I don’t know those people or if they are honest or not. Again, the mere fact that we don’t expect it is how they would be able to get away with it. It has been proven in many instances that most of the theft that goes on in stores, offices and other businesses are by the employees themselves, not the customers. Most corporate crime involves an inside job. As I mentioned in another article, how could I embezzle from a company unless I actually worked there and had access to the money?
Here is another scenario that I saw in a TV drama (“Diagnosis Murder“). They are on the set of a live music awards telecast with recording artists and dignitaries galore on hand. There is supposed to be all this tight security in the studio and premises, I suppose to protect the stars from aggressive fans and stalking paparazzi. But somebody managed to murder one of the honorees in his trailer during the broadcast. It turned out to be the daughter of the producer of the show! So I’m wondering what was all that so-called security for? They were watching out for unauthorized, although innocent, outsiders and chose to ignore the participants. That is from whom all the intrigue and backbiting was occurring. If you’re going to have security guards, they need to be aware of everybody and everything, not just certain designated individuals. The ones not being paid attention to are probably the very ones up to no-good.
In July 2004 there was a fatal shooting in our own City Hall in Manhattan. When the news story broke, everybody wanted to know how the gunslingers got in with their weapons, since the building has such advanced security, or so we all thought. One of the men, James Davis, was a City Councilman who the guards all knew, having seen him come to work there every day. On that particular day when he entered with another man, the guards didn’t bother to check either of them. Why should they? They knew Davis. Well, both men were carrying concealed firearms. Later that day Davis was shot and killed by the other guy, who was in turn killed by a police detective on the scene. So, what good is so-called top security if they don’t make it apply to everyone involved, not just to persons whom they don’t know or who they deem suspicious?
The shooting occurred on the same floor as the mayor’s office, too. One would think that they would have learned their lesson from the 1978 City Hall assassinations in San Francisco of Mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk by fellow supervisor Dan White—that public officials and other government employees can be sick criminals, too, not just your average Joes off the street. Why shouldn’t the mayor himself be checked every day? How do we know for sure that one day he won’t snap, enter with a gun and go on a wild shooting spree? He’s only human. Their neglect to check each and every person entering a high security building, regardless of who they are, rather defeats the purpose, don’t you think? The moral of the story is, don’t trust anyone!