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Trust Me!

(To listen to an audible version of this Blog article please scroll to the bottom )

Trust me. This short phrase must currently be in the running for containing two of the most misused, abused, anxiety inducing, angst ridden words in the modern English vocabulary. When was the last time you heard these two words spoken as a phrase and actually believed them to be a statement of genuine sincerity? Sadly, in today’s stormy social attitudinal climate of do unto others before they do unto you, the utterance of “Trust Me” may just cause you more concern than they are meant to eliminate.

Everywhere we turn it seems the traditional standards of the golden rule have given way to an attitude of I rule so it’s my rules or else. Whether this is the actual reality of the situation or not is difficult to discern. The unfortunate truth of the matter is bad news travels, further and faster than good because it sells things much easier and keeps eyes and ears tuned in for more sustained periods of misery. If humans don’t enjoy anything its gawking at misery. As long as it’s not their own.

Recently I was reading of someone’s misery and had to contemplate what was really going on. A news station related the story of a local teen who had been looking for their very first car with not much cash in hand to make a purchase. The young person unfortunately ended up buying a vehicle that needed more work than they were aware of. The transmission was failing and soon after their purchase they had to have it replaced. The business who sold the car to them paid for the work, but unfortunately that transmission began to fail in less than a year after being replaced. The student and their mom contacted a local TV station and laid out their woeful experience while referring to the incident as a scam. The local news picked up on this like a bear to a pot of fresh grade A honey and did two stories on what had happened. The first was to report the details of the incident as told to them and the second was to talk about a good Samaritan who saw the first story and handed over a check to the young person to pay for the repairs. The good Samaritan said that their motive is that when they saw the story they felt bad for the student as it had happened around the holidays and “just didn’t feel it was right”. On the surface this sounded like a legitimate complaint, and a wonderful heartfelt gesture, until one began to dig a bit deeper.

As it turns out the student had purchased a clearly overpriced 20 year old vehicle which was evidently known for having trouble with its stock transmission. The car was clearly sold for more than it should have been priced out at, which any quick on line check or price comparison shopping would have confirmed. As used cars often are in my state it was sold “As Is”, meaning no warranty, implied or otherwise. The story mentioned that the dealer offered to sell them a warranty which was turned down by the student. No independent mechanic was consulted before the purchase, or if they were this wasn’t mentioned in the story. Had an auto mechanic checked the vehicle out and been consulted the problem would likely have been uncovered prior to the purchase.

When the student discovered the problem, and it was brought to the attention of the dealer who sold it, not being obligated to do so the dealer had the transmission replaced with a used one. This isn’t an uncommon practice in the used car realm. Junk yards sell lots of used parts just for this reason. When the second used transmission failed this was evidently the last straw for the student and that’s when they contacted the TV station, the good Samaritan saw the story and gave the student’s mom the money for another used transmission.

The story went on to say that the dealer the vehicle was purchased from evidently tried contacting the student and their mom, but was unsuccessful in doing so. I’m not clear about whether this was after or before the negative story was broadcast on the news. This much is clear though. The good Samaritan who gave the check to the student’s mom turns out to be a competitor to the dealer who sold the car the student bought. I found it Interesting that the good Samaritan didn’t just have the transmission replaced since they are in the business themselves anyway.

The mechanic who replaced the transmission for the dealer who sold the car was dragged into this mess as well when their name and address were prominently displayed during the news story. This made them out to be an accomplice to the perceived wrong doing, or at least this was the apparent slant of the story. As I read this story, and then watched the replay broadcast, several questions came to mind. The first is why wasn’t a parent or guardian available to help an 18 year old first time car buyer navigate the minefield of a used auto purchase? Many of us have been through such an ordeal and know what it can be like. It doesn’t take long to figure out what must be done in order to make a sound choice. By the way, the student was old enough to be classified as an adult and therefore no child abuse was committed as some on social media were quick to suggest after the story ran.

Other questions that come to mind is why did the student turn down a warranty on an “As Is” used vehicle? Why wasn’t the car taken to an independent mechanic to be checked out before the purchase? Why wasn’t the make and model researched before the purchase and why was it purchased for nearly double what it should have been sold for? These are all things a more knowledgeable and experienced used car purchaser could have helped the student navigate had they sought advice.

In today’s climate of the internet’s instant information at one’s fingertips it’s puzzling why the student didn’t simply do a little research before the purchase. When I was growing up this on demand knowledge base wasn’t available to me or my friends. Today’s average college student is fully aware of the power of the internet and it would have taken less than fifteen minutes to do the research to find out what the used vehicle was actually worth and what sort of problems that car model was known for.

The other question I have is what was the motivation of the competitor dealer turned good Samaritan who watched the first broadcast, gave money and then was interviewed on air about his good deed while posing with the mother and the student. Finally, what was the motivation of the TV station in clearly identifying the mechanic who replaced the transmission the first time for the dealership who sold the car to the student? It was the mechanic who pointed out the problems with that make and model of car. Their only involvement was locating and installing the used replacement part as requested by the dealer who sold the student the car.

It’s impossible to discern what the true motives were of all parties involved. The speculation on social media after the initial and follow up story ran were across the spectrum about who was wrong, who was wronged and why. There were angry retorts about boycotting and putting the initial selling dealer, and even the mechanic, out of business. Others felt that the student should have sought knowledgeable council in their decision before the purchase, or at the very least did their homework if you will. Some were understandably siding with the student and the hard life lesson they learned while others had less kind things to say about them suggesting that they should have known better. It’s easy to get tied up in the emotional debate when the media reports things with an apparent bias and slant and without a more thorough coverage.

Who does one trust in such a situation? Who is right, who is wrong and what should the consequences be if any? I can’t help but wonder what the outcome might have been if all parties involved, the student purchaser, the selling dealer, the good Samaritan and especially the reporting TV station had exercised something in even shorter supply than trust these days. That something, from my observations of late, is integrity.

Integrity is defined as a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. It used to be taught in public school

and even in college depending upon the courses one took. Without integrity societies tend to rot from the inside out as the golden rule becomes tarnished beyond recognition and the ten commandments turn into the ten suggestions. This isn’t a religious thing and it doesn’t hinge on a person’s personal spiritual beliefs, life philosophy, or lack thereof. It has to do with treating fellow human beings with the respect and honesty we all desire and deserve to be treated with. This is where trust and integrity come in and where both quickly depart when the lack of respect and honesty is detected.

Who was right and who was wronged in this story is up for debate. For me it highlights how important it is to trust but verify in less than ideal situations. More to the point is how important it is to instill within ourselves the absolute imperative, call it the prime imperative if you will, of exercising integrity in our lives at every opportunity. Honesty doesn’t dwell in some shade of gray in between right and wrong. Adherence to a personal moral and ethical code which can discern the difference between good and bad, positive and negative, Yen and Yang is a skill worth learning, practicing, and understanding why.

Regardless of what the truth actually is, a person’s personal perceived truth is based upon their experiences, their belief system and even what they feel instinctually to be true, whether it is or not to anyone else. These things are subject to being highly manipulated by others who desire to control our beliefs. This happens quite often as is evidenced in this news story that caught my attention and I’ve now shared with you. It doesn’t matter what the actual truth is. Our truth becomes what we choose to believe.

A goal of mine as part of a personal legacy is to nurture within me the highest level of integrity possible. I share this here because the mission I’ve set for myself in life isn’t just to build a positive personal legacy but to encourage and help others to build their own legacy of integrity through creative educational opportunities, mentoring, by providing the best possible example, and through sharing Blog pieces like this one. The example we choose to set in this life is all anyone will really ever know about us if they haven’t had the opportunity to know us well enough to understand our motivations and experiences in life. Our legacy is the impression we leave behind on the hearts and minds of others. Like footprints left in the sand on the beach of time they tell the story of the direction and the speed at which we traveled until they are washed away no longer to be remembered. The depth those footprints we leave is determined by our character and actions and will last only as long as the memorable impressions we make on others. Protecting a positive and memorable legacy should be the goal of everyone who sets their foot on the sandy path of life. It’s not enough to assume that this is clearly evident to others, as we are remembered not just for our words but also for our actions. In my opinion it’s an utter tragedy and a loss to humanity not to care enough about your personal legacy to make it your life’s mission to be the best person you possibly can while your here. So now it’s my turn. I’m asking you to trust me on this ....Until Next time.

©2022 Michael D. Davis All Rights Reserved

(permission is hereby granted for this Blog article to be shared in full only if accompanied by this credit line)

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