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Remember When You Used To Take People At Their Word?

Updated on June 28, 2010


Once upon a time when people gave you their word on something you knew that they were being honest and that they would keep their word. Better than a badge from the Boy or Girl Scouts, we were taught that taking someone at their word was the ultimate trust agreement. Sure you  could get them to swear on a stack of bibles or pinky swear but for the most part, after you were ten years old you had to have faith in the people you were associating with that they were doing and were going to do what they said they would do. Remember when you used to take people at their word? – Don’t Get Me Started!

There was a time before DNA testing and Google that you had to trust your instincts about people. Sometimes your instinct s were right and sometimes it went horribly wrong, it was the trial and error process that your parents promised you would help you grow to be the adult that you wanted to be and that they could be proud of. Sure you might distrust someone who never made eye contact or seemed to have a bit of a twitch when you suspected that they were lying but on the whole, I was taught that someone’s word was the most sacred thing that you could give to someone and that you should uphold your word short of death. You never wanted to be someone who didn’t keep their word, that made you seem seedy, unworthy or just downright a bad person.

Was it naivety or simply youth that made someone’s word seem like a bond better than a written contract? Now think about how you are today. Even with a contract, how much do you take someone at their word? The immediate thought in my head are the sellers of cell phones. They tell you they’re giving you a special rebate they really don’t give everyone and that you don’t have to worry about anything because they’re going to take special care of you and then you realize that you signed a two year contract that has so much gibberish in the contract that you couldn’t possibly understand it if you HAD gone to law school. Turns out the rebate can only be used in the store as a credit toward the retail, not sale, price of anything else they’re selling. Turns out that the two year contract is a four year contract and if you want to make outbound calls it will cost you extra. When you go back to the store you discover that the person who told you and sold you everything no longer works at the store and the new person tells you that what the previous person told you was all lies, that you have to abide by the contract or pay a large sum of money to get out of it, and that this is the reason the person was let go. However they’ll gladly sell you a better rate plan even though they really shouldn’t but they feel badly about what happened…supposedly. Secretly the new salesperson thinks you’re making everything up and knows that the other sales person did exactly what they would do to close the sale. So much for people’s word, right?

I am very Anne Frank in my day to day thought process. I want to believe in spite of everything that people are good. I’m a true Scorpio, loyal to a fault, until you cross me and then I’m so done with you I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. But the more I deal with people the more I realize how little control we really have, sometimes we need to take the leap of faith and sometimes we’ll choose not to make the leap because of a gut or some other instinct telling us not to leap.

But what I’ve discovered is that in the end, I think I don’t want to be focused on whether or not someone else is keeping their word to me but rather focus on being the person who always keeps his word, a person whose word is respected because it is kept not most but all of the time when it is given to someone. Maybe not out of any other reason than because that’s what I was taught was “right” when I was being taught what was “right from wrong.” Or maybe because I want my parents, spouse and cats to be proud of me.  Sure there are times when my feelings will be hurt because someone does not believe my word but I have to remember that’s on them and not a reflection of me. Mostly I need to keep my word to myself so that no matter who or what external forces work to make me stop taking people at their word, I know in my heart my word still means what my parents told me it meant and what I aspired to have it mean. Remember when you used to take people at their word? – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 7 years ago

      GREAT Hub Scott!!

      I have so many dear friends, really honest, decent loving souls, who are going through hell right now because they were lied to by brokers, bankers, attorneys, spouses, employers, etc.

      Lying has become an acceptable way of life here in the U.S. - and it has destroyed the very foundation from which we stand!!

      So I'm with you!! We need to stand up and raise our voices in truth - always!!

      Blessings, Earth Angel!!

    • MotherHubber profile image

      MotherHubber 7 years ago from Southern California

      Interesting topic. I agree with you, it seems that "giving one's word" has lost it's meaning, and we are the worse for it as a society. It takes time and patience to honor our committments, but I find that the people in my life who truly keep their word are valued above those who don't.