According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “trust” comes from the Latin for sucker punch. That’s not true, but when someone says the word – as in “Lend me twenty bucks, and I’ll pay you back right away; trust me,” or “Trust me; this won’t hurt” – I prepare for the worst. Except in rare situations, only untrustworthy people say, “Trust me.”
The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet tells Juliet, “There’s no trust, no faith, no honesty in men,” and who can blame her? In my first Joe Kozmarski mystery, The Last Striptease (which I like to think is the kind of mystery a descendent of Shakespeare would write if the bloodline had been thoroughly bastardized), Joe trusts people about as much as the Nurse does. When an old family friend says, “Trust me,” Joe replies, “Not a chance.” And he’s right to say it: the family friend is a crook.
If a salesman says, “Trust me,” buy a different product.
If a politician says, “Trust me,” vote for the opposition.
If a lover says, “Trust me,” check the phone log, and find another bed to sleep in.
Weird then that some of the saddest words are those that express a betrayal of trust: “I no longer trust you; you’ve lost my trust.” These words cut to the heart. They’re ones that no one ever wants to speak or hear.
Trust is a confidence game, a game of faith – blind faith, as all faith ultimately must be – but a life without it would be cynical and empty. So, may we all trust wisely and well, and if others betray our trust, may they suffer Shakespearean indignities: may their heads turn into donkey heads and may their hands never wash clean.