According to the many people with whom I traffic on a daily basis, I’m fun to take advantage of. Not that they told me this in so many words, I’ve just sort of guessed it through my (inestimable) powers of observation and the fact that we seem to be having more and more “incidents” lately.
You see, the quality that makes me so very fun to take advantage of is gullibility. I guess my inherently earnest nature is the equivalent of a giant karmic “kick me” sign.
Let’s start at the beginning. From the day I met him, I knew my Dad was a Big Deal. First of all, he was the tallest man in the world (how could anyone be taller than that and still have access to oxygen?) Second, he could fix anything and, as such, I had this notion that he Knew Things. Important things. Things only someone with his vast knowledge of Things could know.
That being said, whenever my Dad spoke (which was not all the time, because he was, and is, a man of few words) I listened. I listened hard.
I will never forget the day I learned what “gullible” means. At the dinner table, my Dad casually mentioned to me that the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary. He said it as nonchalantly as one might mention that spaghetti is messy. I, being the ambitious young rapscallion I continue to be, was eager to prove him wrong so as to begin building my credibility as a knower of Things.
I ran into my room and brought out the dictionary. I thumbed through and found “gullible” and pointed it out with much triumph to my Dad, who sat there shaking from ill-contained laughter. I believe it took me a full minute to comprehend what he found so funny. I believe it may have taken me a whole day to speak to him again after I’d figured it out.
That was then, but this problem continues to persist even now. Unfortunately for me, the people I work with have uncovered my gullibility and are using it against me at every opportunity.
We had a melt-down last week because someone told me we would not be grilling hamburgers for lunch (Yes, we have a BBQ at work and we use it. Often.) and then, after I’d already eaten my left-overs, told me he’d been kidding and then acted sad when I didn’t eat a burger. I may have chastised him thoroughly for his scurrilous abuses of my trusting nature. Just today, I was told that the grill ran out of gas before the burgers were fully cooked only to walk outside with a sad face and find the burgers cooking happily away.
I could list other examples but I think you get the point. The problem I’ve been wrestling with for years now is what can be done about this liability of a personal quality? I suppose I could just start distrusting everything people say but I think that’d be a tad counter-productive.
Intellectually, I know that I should just distrust silly things said by untrustworthy people. The problem is, though, that I think I’m lacking the capacity to identify both the silly things and the untrustworthy people. It’s like I’m color-blind and I’m required to separate the red fish from the blue fish.
I can see an inherently trusting nature being a good quality in some cases. For the most part, though, it seems to be the chink in my mental armor. What do you think? Do you find gullibility charming or an itch waiting to be scratched?