By Caitlin Kelly
If you’ve been reading Broadside for a while — thank you! — you know I’m generally an openhearted person.
I like people and approach new situations, professional and personal, with a sense of optimism.
Working as a journalist means I have to quickly put strangers at ease and gather useful information from them. We have to establish trust fast — something of a contradiction.
Working as a journalist also means assuming most people are not lying to me, or want to do me harm in so doing, because a journalist who publishes lies is someone with a very short career. So we fact-check when possible and seek out sources whose background and credentials are as legit as we can find.
When it comes to personal relationships, trust is also paramount, at least for me.
My first marriage, to a physician, lasted barely two years; he bailed and remarried, quickly, a fellow therapist (!) he worked with and with whom he spent a lot of personal time. I was wholly reliant on him financially, so I had to trust him. I had little choice then.
Jose and I have spent time apart. I traveled alone for six weeks in Europe in June-July 2017, as blissful as I could be. I love solo time and traveling alone, exploring to my heart’s content.
I had an amusing evening in Berlin, sharing a table with three handsome young men (all co-workers), one of whom (as part of the conversation!) took off his dress shirt.
It was all good fun, nothing more.
Trust is the basic foundation of every interaction we have, from infancy to death:
— our parents
— our physicians
— our caregivers
— our teachers and professors
— our school/college administrators
— the police
— the courts
— our clergy and religious leaders
— our political leaders
— our relatives
— our romantic partners/spouses
— our employers
— youth group leaders
— our co-workers
— government agencies whose job it is to regulate/fine/shut down offenders
If you’re a person of color, or non-Christian, or gay, you have now become a target for hatred — with more and more deaths-by-vehicle, targeted by sociopaths or a pervasive police brutality that is deeply shocking, if no longer surprising.
You can’t even go out for a bike ride or a walk trusting in your personal safety.
And, as I’ve written here before, trust can be quickly shattered, and is difficult to regain….after dating a con man in 1998, being laughed at, literally, by my local police and D.A., my worldview would never be the same again.
My family relationships, too often toxic through anger and alcohol, taught me to be wary of intimacy.
Trust also underpins every freelance personal and professional relationship:
— our friends
— our colleagues
— our clients
— our agents
— our editors
— our social media networks
I spend a lot of time (too much!) on Twitter, where I have some 5600 followers, including some very senior people in my industry.
I’ve made several very good friends with people I still have yet to meet face to face, whether in Brazil or Tennessee.
So this past weekend, we did!
SO MUCH FUN!
A gay couple, one of whom works in our industry (journalism) and her partner, came up to our home and shared a long lunch that started at noon — and ended at 5:30.
We all took the chance of getting together and hoping we would be as we are on social media — fun, funny, playful, smart, interesting.
We were and we did.
I call these Twitter blind dates, not that we want a romantic thing, but we go into them really only knowing a tiny profile photo, a bunch of tweets and LinkedIn profile. Hoping for the best!
I’ve done this many times, never disappointed.
With a retail expert who lives in Virginia.
With a travel blogger and an archeologist (2 people) in Berlin.
With a pair of travel agent sisters in Zagreb.
With a fellow blogger, in London, https://smalldogsyndrome.com/.
We’ve been repeat house-guests a few times, and that also requires trust — that we’re quiet and thoughtful and don’t smoke or do drugs or will break or stain or ruin things. We bring food and drink and a gift and we always send a thank-you note.
We also trust our hosts to offer us a clean, soft bed. To let us have quiet alone time. To offer good food. To not (as one did to me?!) leave a filthy cat litter box beneath my pull-out bed.
I also once house-sat for a family of four headed to Tuscany from Vermont — unpaid. I was perfectly happy to walk their small affectionate dog. I was not at all happy to also get stuck watering their large garden in a heat wave and (!?) cleaning their pool.
That friendship died with this abuse of my time and energy. I trusted them to be fair with me, and they were not.
Do you trust easily?