My mother raised me to be an honest person. Like a good writer, she did this by showing me through example rather than telling me how I should act. I remember accompanying her to the grocery store along Queen St. and watching in amazement while she gave back an overpayment of change the clerk had handed to her. It wasn’t much money, but enough that the clerk was taken aback. I guess no other customer had been so honest as to to call out a mistake made in their favour. That lesson really stuck with me, mainly because it happened more than once.
Both my parents were honest people. They were never rich, but Dad earned a decent living, enough to look after our family. We were lucky, I guess, that Grandma had become the financier she did when she first came to Canada from Belgium, building up a small real estate empire in The Beach of Toronto. Well, it seemed to us as though she oversaw a fortune. It was generally her money that bought us the extra things that Mom and Dad couldn’t quite afford on his income alone. So I guess what I’m saying is that Mom could afford to be honest with those sales clerks. But even if the money had been really tight, I still believe my mother would have been honest to a fault. That’s just the way she was.
I try to emulate her in all I do, as far as honesty is concerned, especially when dealing with others. I find I’m just naturally honest – and that I then expect everyone else in the world will be equally so. Probably the most disappointing thing in my life is every time I realize that many, if not most, other people in the world do not think the same way. This particularly hits home when someone takes advantage of my… naivety – there, I’ve said it! I know I’m naive, believing that the old line from the Bible is true (Do unto other as you would have others do unto you), because it just ain’t so. Possibly this is one of the main reasons why I left the Christian religion far behind me, oh so long ago – but that’s a far bigger subject best left for another blog post. For now, when someone does disappoint me, I turn the other cheek rather than make a big deal about it.
Those of you who know me, and know how my life has been shaping up recently, realize that mine is a rollercoaster existence that has fortunately been evenly balanced between the downs and ups. I can handle that. I’ve learned to live on very little money coming in – have had to, and have really appreciated those few lucky breaks when just the right opportunity has opened up at exactly the moment I seemed to need it. Through all this time, I have continued to treat people decently, giving them the benefit of the doubt – always assuming they they are treating me as honestly as I treat them. But time and time again I’m disappointed in my fellow human beings. And I’m especially angry with those who take advantage of my good nature and naivety.
You, Mr. Barista at the coffee shop the other day. Yeah, you, who gave me the most disinterested service I have ever encountered. Did you think I didn’t notice you shortchanged me when you dropped my coins on the counter and dared me with your steel-cold eyes to say something? I noticed alright, but chose just to say thank you and not make a big deal about it. Did you notice that I then did not tip you? But don’t worry as I won’t be giving you my custom again.
And, You! Slumlord, who told me I needed to give you references, sign a year-long lease, give you rent cheques in advance, then never once did anything by way of fixing anything that was wrong with my apartment. Nor did you mention that the apartment I would be renting was right next door to a known sex offender. Oh, you didn’t know he was a sex offender at the time? Did he not have to supply you with references and did you not do a background check on him before he rented? But, even if you hadn’t known, you might have once answered all the tenants’ complaints about the stench coming from his apartment, inspected it and discovered that – yes, indeed! – something was definitely amiss with this man. Noooo! It took eight police, working on an outside tip, to knock down his door and arrest him before we all discovered the truth. Thanks for endangering all the tenants in the building. Now what about the guy in the basement who truly has been a disturbance to the entire building and who some of us suspect is cooking meth or something equally heinous down there in the apartment that no one else wanted to rent, because it was full of mould. I’m asking here for the sake of my fellow tenants, because I have essentially moved out of the place, after following all the rules and giving you a full month’s notice of my intentions. I treated you honestly throughout the term of my lease, so why could you not have returned that by treating all of us decently?
And how about you, Former-Friends, who I don’t speak to any longer because you took advantage of our friendship? Are you still blaming me for what went wrong? When will you be honest and look inward to what actually ails you in your own lives. Stop blaming me! In fact, everyone who has a beef with me – think about what you yourself may have done to ruin our friendship. The answer, I’m sure, will surprise even you … And, fortunately for me, more very good friends have taken your place, in any case. People who are honest friends, and who honestly want to be friends with me.
Finally, to anyone who thinks I am gaining through my business at the expense of the authors who contract my promotion services – au contraire! I have treated everyone honestly, but have actually not been treated the same by others in the business – so it’s me who is out the money, and not my clients. If anything, I err on the side of giving away more to everyone than I take in. And I’m a writer myself, fer cryin’ out loud!!! Why would I be trying to scheme ways to part other writers from their hard-earned money? I, if anyone, know what those writers are going through to not only write but also to get their writing published. I will continue treating everyone honestly and fairly in business. I just hope that others will treat me the same way. And I will say this only once… I AM HERE TO HELP!
So, Mom, you will be happy knowing that I was listening to you, at least some of the time, while I was growing up, and have been following your example throughout my adulthood. Would that everyone else in the world had had the same honest upbringing. I’ll continue on my optimistic way, however, and hope that the majority of people I meet in life will be doing unto me as they would have me do unto them.