Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Benefit of the Doubt

Posted: March 5, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , ,

You know something?  I have no idea where the phrase “benefit of the doubt” originated.  Yet, we all know what it means.

Being a laid back person often means others think that you’re casual about everything.  So they get a little surprised when they find out that you have no tolerance for anything other than the “benefit of the doubt” when they’re dealing with you.  

“Why did you let the door hit me in the face?”

I looked at my colleague. “Why do you assume I saw you following me?”

It’s like that.  I make a point of assuming the best of others.  Maybe this is clause #415 of the Golden Rule, section B.   Or maybe it’s just a good idea.   Everyone reading this blog has found themselves on the wrong end of the pooping elephant of misunderstanding, right?  You can think of times when you did something and a loved one or friend misinterpreted you, or assumed the worst.  (Tell me about it in your comments!)

Anyway – it sucks, doesn’t it?

Only makes sense not to make the same mistake with them, right?  Like, when that server at the restaurant forgets to bring you your drink not once, but three times.  Well, he or she’s just lazy and stupid right?   I grew up with that mindset.   Until, I had a bad day and people assumed I was stupid and lazy.   It’s not fair when it happens to me.

Maybe the server was up all night with a sick kid, and so was just unfocused.  Maybe he or she is a single parent, too.

It doesn’t make it any easier for you when you’re just trying to have a good night out and the server has forgotten you.  It happens.   It’s life.  You have options:  you can make a big deal about it and complain to the manager, or you can leave a penny tip, or you can assume the best of motives, leave your normal tip and carry on.   Really, when you think about it – how many people truly have nefarious evil motives?  

Well other than politicians and teenagers, I mean.  

And plumbers who insist on not tightening their belts enough to avoid the dreaded butt cleavage.  

And the upstairs neighbour who has his music turned up so loud you can’t get any sleep.  Doesn’t he *know* you need to get up at 5:00?   What?  You didn’t talk with him? Uh huh.

When I met a girl six years ago, I thought she was amazing.  Cute, tiny actually – maybe 5’0″ or so.  Like The Girl I’m with now, this one was Russian too.  (In fact, The Girl and I talked about her).    We went out for about six months, off and on.

There were a few things about her though that I found odd.

She never invited me up to her place.  Ever.

She often lapsed into a brooding silence when we were together.  I had no idea why.

She wanted to talk about me, but we hardly ever talked about her.

I assumed the best.  Maybe she had a horrible past and just didn’t want to think about it or talk about it.  I didn’t push.

One day though, we were at a restaurant, and I had enough.   There we sat, our meals done, and the bill paid.  She was brooding again.

I looked at her.  “What are you thinking about?”

She looked back at me, then down, saying nothing.

I decided to push.  “You look as if you are married with six kids or something.”   To this day, I have no idea where that thought came from.  It just popped out. 

She looked back at me in alarm.  Her face drained of all colour.

“I don’t have six kids…..” she began.  Then stopped.

It was too surreal.  I had assumed the best of this woman and she had dropped this bombshell.   In a split second, the trust that was her default when we started out was suddenly ripped to shreds.   She was married, and she hadn’t bothered to tell me.

I looked at my glass of water, thinking.   Then I stood up.



This changed nothing about me, though.  My positive presumptions remain the same with almost anyone I meet.  

Better to trust and be betrayed, I think,  than to assume the worst and be alone.