“If I had a cent for every time I’ve been taken for a ride I’d be a millionaire,”

Those were my exact words as I shut the door and peered out the window at a dismal figure retreating down my front driveway. As if to reinforce my decision several dogs broke into a chorus of barking as the woman reached the gate.

I recollected some of the more notable events which helped me arrive at this conviction. When Georgine and I first arrived in the orient our meager monthly salary vanished as seemingly desperate people appeared at the door with surprising regularity. They all had heartbreaking stories to relate.

There were women who’d supposedly been abandoned, men who claimed to have been robbed on trains, families who claimed they’d no place to go. Each story was sympathetically received and resulted in a donation. It did seem strange though that these terrible events seemed to recur on a frequent basis to the same people. We were often in desperate circumstances ourselves in those early years because of our open ended giving, and our attitude was largely motivated by the poverty we saw around us and a realization we were much better off than those at our door.

After a while we began to realize those who were advising us to be more prudent in our giving weren’t necessarily hard hearted. They knew more about the society we’d adopted than we did. Our Deshi neighbors patiently sought to instruct us in the art of discretionary giving. We needed to be more careful about where our limited resources were placed. They should not be wasted on confidence tricksters!

So I began to make more careful enquiries about our regular seeming unfortunate visitors. “Crazy Charlie” was not as crazy as it appeared, the man with the grotesque malformed arms could make them go back to normal if he wished, and the lady with the elephant face preferred to be outside a hospital because she made a mint out of tourists. Our world crashed with this discovery and I determined never to be caught out again by these charlatans.

While I was mulling such thoughts over in my mind a troubled young daughter entered the room. She wanted to know why the woman retreating down the path was sobbing, and what I’d done to cause her grief. Doubts appeared! Could this be a genuine case I’d callously turned aside, and what about the higher ethical standards we claimed to live by?

With a sigh I went to the hidden drawer and removed some of our precious monthly living allowance. The woman had said she needed a train ticket, and it would be better to take a chance than risk injustice. I rushed down the road and handed her money sufficient for her ticket and some extra to help her survive the train journey.

Later, a letter of appreciation revealed this had been a genuine case after all. How glad I was I’d heeded the golden rule rather than let bad experiences of the past dictate my treatment of a woman in need.

Of course I still respect the advice of my neighbors of that time. Not everyone who comes to the door with a hard luck story has genuine need and we’ve a responsibility to our family to protect our resources from such people. Check to see your gifts go to those with a genuine need.

Trust is something people have to demonstrate they’re worthy of, but occasionally you may have to take a chance and hope claims of need by that person at the door are genuine.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved”

26 thoughts on “Trust

  1. Hi Ian, this is indeed a wake up call for me. Thank you for writing this article. If not because of this, I would still be kept in the dark and continue in the giving. Eric Alagan introduces me to your blog.


  2. Eric Alagan directed me here and I’m glad he did Ian. Great blog and this post touched a chord. I lost a lot of money at the hands of a scammer, but my heart remains open 😀


    1. There’s nothing like being caught out a few times by scammers to make one cautious. We like to give to worthy causes but are quite selective now. Nice to have you on my page Jane.


  3. Even when I’m still a small child and someone knocks at our door, I want to lend a hand but my parents always told me that those were just lies in order for them to earn easy-money, but still I had that feeling that I need to provide something… I guess trust are really something we couldn’t easily give even though our hearts are soft. I salute people like you who had that little hope of hearing a genuine story… 🙂


  4. That’s a great post. This is something I’ve struggled with a lot. I’ve been tricked out of money, but I’ve also given where it’s been really needed. You’re right we need to be prudent where we spend our money, but I think in cases where it’s impossible to know, the choice comes down to risking being cheated or risking not helping someone who really needs it.


  5. I came here because Eric Alagan recommended your Blog, I must say it is brilliant, the topics here are so well written and the poetry filled with emotion, It is a shame that people pretend to get hand outs and it is so hard to determine the real needs, this world needs more caring people like you, it would be a much nicer place to live, I’m afraid I am a sucker for a hard luck story as well, I will be following your blog from now on, keep up the great work, best wishes Baarb..


    1. Thank you so much. My stories and poems have been written primarily for my children to remember me by. Many of the events apart from the fictional mini-stories and childhood experiences our children shared with us during our years in Asia. It’s nice to know you and others found them interesting too.


  6. Good point. It’s a shame that these con artists have taken help away from and cast so much doubt on truly needy individuals. Vigilance and research are definitely key.


  7. Thank you for sharing Ian…always nice written . I agree whit Jeannine…your heart is on the right place even this of Georgine.But still be alert when people ring on the frontdoor. Take care of you and her.


  8. I agree Ian – looks like an angel spoke through your daughter. Your family is blessed indeed.

    Even in Singapore – because we accord visa-exempt travel for 14 days – many ‘tourists’ from neighbouring countries come here to make quick fortunes.

    Singaporeans, for all their western education and ideals, harbour deep trust in ‘fate’ – we’re quick to open our wallets – even now. All the beggars – and I mean all – are foreigners. I would prefer to buy them a meal/drinks and even groceries from the supermart. Occasionally, I do part with hard cash.

    It helps the giver more than the recipient – there I go, another one who believes in fate.

    P/s: Incidentally, the present day Singaporeans will never beg – they would rather starve – is that pride, arrogance, I don’t know. I know that I would rather work – cleaning shit if I have to.


    1. Well my sympathies are with the present day Singaporeans then. I would rather starve than beg also. I believe we have been given a brain and strength to work. I would do any kind of work, no matter how demeaning to earn bread for my family rather than sit on the street with a begging bowl.


  9. There really is no way to know the truth of a strangers heart but you do know your heart. By listening to what you’re inner heart told you, you did a right and good thing. Others may not have been so honest with you but your heart and resulting actions did right. You are a blessing Ian!


  10. There is a fine invisible line between the person in genuine need and the con artist. Because it is invisible to most of us I prefer, as you did with the lady in need of a ticket, to err on the side of belief in the person’s story.


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