To trust, or not to trust

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I–like many people in this big bad world–have had my share of times I trusted the wrong person. Times I took a person at his/her word, and believed that that person would act in a manner consistent with my moral code.

Only to have my faith in humanity cracked and my heart broken just a bit.

Silly of me, I know, since I am old enough to know better. It is one of the lessons that children learn while still in school.

One instance I remember vividly did happen in school–only it was college, not elementary school.

Once upon a time, in a far away land called the University of Washington, I was studying to be an archaeologist. I had the good fortune to get into a practicuum at the Burke Museum, and I was having a blast. I loved every minute of it. The comraderie of the students and teachers, the professional atmosphere in the archaeology lab–but I especially loved that I got a chance to curate a 1949 field school all by myself. It was heavenly.

In the spring, we went on an overnight field trip to Odette, an archaeological site on Neah Bay. To get there we had to drive for several hours, park our van, and hike 4 hours out to the site, which was right on the water. We were all warned to bring plenty of water, since there was nothing at our campsite by sand, mud, and trees. If we wanted something, we had to hike it in.

I had prepared for the trip carefully. As a mother of 4, I was used to making sure that I had everything I could possible need. Change of clothing, check. Snacks, check. A gallon of water, check. Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check.

I was ready.

As I was repacking my backpack in preparation to begin the 4 hour hike, one of my classmates, a young man of about 22, voiced concern about the heaviness of my pack. He said that he was used to hiking with a pack, and that he would gladly lighten my load.

Right on top was my gallon of water. He pointed to the water, and said that he could easily add that to his pack, and he would be glad to transport it for me to the campsite.

I looked at him and noted that he seemed to be an athletic guy, and since he was at least 8 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier, he probably would be better able to handle the weight of the water. Besides, I had a couple of smaller bottles with me for the hike, so I thanked him and handed over the water.

The hike was exhilirating and beautiful. For the sake of convenience, we split up and all went at our own pace. Although I was not even close to the first of the group to make it to the site, I was proud to discover that I was far from the last person. I held my own.

I set up my tent and unpacked my backpack. Noticing that I had drunk all of the water I had carried on the walk, I went in search of the nice young man who had offered to carry my main supply of water.

Imagine my dismay when I found him, and he informed me that he had drunk it all. The entire gallon.

I had no water the rest of the day, no water that night, and no water for the 4 mile hike back to our vans.

A crack reverbrated through my very being as a new crevice formed its way across my faith in humanity, and through my heart.

Which didn’t help my thirst one bit.

But who could I blame, but myself. I was old enough to know better.

What do you think?