Glass Half Full: Promoting a sense of trust in Incline Village | SierraSun.com

Glass Half Full: Promoting a sense of trust in Incline Village

Ruth Glass
Glass Half Full

Last week I left my handbag in IV Coffee Lab. Busy chatting with a friend, I simply walked off and left it sitting on the floor by my nice, cushy chair.

About an hour later, I realized it was missing and drove back to discover it, undisturbed, where I had left it. The couple sitting where my friend and I had enjoyed our drinks remarked that they had wondered to whom it belonged.

While my initial reaction, upon discovering that so many of my general valuables were missing, was a moment of panic, it's fair to say that I fully expected to find my bag where I had left it. Either that, or someone would have handed it over to the lab's employees.

And while I don't recommend leaving one's possessions strewn about our Village, one of the huge blessings of living here is that we can predictably trust each other. Most of us are comfortable leaving our cars unlocked as we pop into Raley's or PakMail. Spending time at the driving range at the Champ Course, I am reasonably confident I can leave my non-golf shoes on the floor of my car and still find them there when I return.

In a country where, sadly, suspicion abounds, I love living in a town where we look to each other as mutual protectors. I abhor the isolated instances that promote fear and an assumption that we can't trust anyone.

Every time I try to open some manufacturer's package and have to find scissors to do so, I wonder exactly why the United States, more than any country, seems to operate on the belief that others in our midst — because surely we wouldn't think so of ourselves — are out to poison or steal something. I tend to believe that anyone bent on stealing something from a store is going to find a way to do it.

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The vast majority of people, in my experience, are honest and helpful. We pick up things that others have dropped and hasten to return them. We help old ladies across streets. We hold doors open for strangers. We share space and we share opportunities. In fact, in my experience, the people most suspicious of others are often those who, perhaps, aren't entirely trustworthy themselves.

Those of us who are parents or teachers have engaged in the age-old "You don't trust me!" conversations with our children. In fact, quite likely we were on the flip side of the arguments when we were youngsters.

Trust is a dual responsibility that requires a certain element of risk and a huge amount of role modeling. Children learn how to behave by watching their elders. If they observe us being less than honest, we have given them permission to be the same.

If they experience our thoughtful respect for others and their possessions, quite likely our children will mature into dependable, trustworthy adults — around whom we can inadvertently leave our handbags and find them upon our return.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.