Never believe what people tell you over the internet unless the person is a real-life superhero. Those guys you can usually trust.
Such were the thoughts of Ms. Zhang, 48, after swapping messages with Invisible Man, who described himself as an international crime-fighter with the superpower of being able to disappear from sight at will.
That sounds legit, thought Ms. Zhang, and agreed to meet him. The superhero turned out to be a bit on the petite side and had no muscles or caped costume. But Invisible Man explained that he was in his secret identity as mild-mannered Mr. Li of the finance ministry.
That sounds legit too, thought Ms. Zhang, and invited him to move into her apartment in Beijing.
Invisible Man borrowed a small fortune from her and disappeared.
Ms. Zhang went to his government department to find him, the Beijing News reported. Her conversation with staff was not recorded, but must have gone something like this: “I’d like to speak to Invisible Man, please.” “No one by that name here. What does he look like?”
The good news is that police eventually tracked him down and found the male superhero was actually a 54-year-old female fraudster.
That recent news report got me thinking about trust. This columnist has had severe trust issues all his life thanks to a childhood incident involving raisin oatmeal cookies which looked like chocolate chip cookies. The details are still too painful to discuss.
The good news is that an innovate attempt to build trust in relationships has just been launched in Japan. A koi to do ke, which means Love Declaration Form, is now available in physical or downloadable form (but only in Japanese) from municipal officials in Nagareyama town, Chiba prefecture. The form requests lots of details, such as when and where you met the love of your life, and asks whether he or she loves you in return, with four possible checkbox answers: “Yes,” “No”, “I think so” and “I don’t know”.
So when girls ask: “Do you love me,” guys can henceforth simply reply: “See Form A62(B), and in particular item seven on page two.” As a male, I can totally see the point of this. Fill it in once, and you’re done for life.
But I know some women think guys are as shallow as graphene, so I asked the guys at my local rice-box cafÃ© to create some deep aphorisms about trust. The top three:
1) A relationship without trust is like a car without wheels, seats, an engine, or a chassis. It goes nowhere but you save money on fuel and parking.
2) Trust is like a piece of paper. If you crumple it up, it can never be perfect again, unless you iron it at 218 degrees Celsius, at which time it will catch fire and burn down your house.
3) Trust takes years to earn but only seconds to lose and is balanced out by belly fat, which takes seconds to earn but years to lose.
I close with the words of top scientist Stephen Hawking: “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” No, wait. Maybe that was Peter Pan. You can trust him: He’s a superhero.
(14.03.2014 – Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org
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