There are a lot of people in desperate straits economically. I live on an island where about 80% of the population is struggling. Most of the work comes from agriculture and from commercial fishing. Whenever possible, I have done my best to hire local people to work on the property, either as a housekeeper, painter, groundskeeper, electrician, etc.
In the past, I have had a couple of instances where my trust in people that were hired did not pan out. One occurred when the daughter of a housekeeper we hired stole my wife's diamond ring. This was a girl who was around 12 years old, and she would come to the house occasionally to help her mother with the house cleaning. Luckily, we discovered the ring was missing, called the housekeeper who confronted her daughter. We got the ring back thankfully.
Another incident occurred when a trim carpenter we hired and trusted brought his 14 year old grandson with him to work on the bookshelves and mantle in the library. It was just before Christmas. The day after they left, C. was missing several rings, including her mother's engagement ring. We called the police immediately and called the carpenter who drove out with his grandson. The grandson admitted to going into the bedroom where the rings were but denied stealing them. Instead, both grandfather and grandson insisted that someone else had come into the house when they were working and stolen the rings. With the house being a mile down a dirt road and all the dogs around, this scenario was implausible. Nonetheless, there were no fingerprints and no way to prove anything. The rings were gone along with a few Christmas presents. It took a while, but eventually we were able to let that go and not dwell on it.
Now once again there has been an incident that has brought concern. I have had the same handy man, Thomas, helping me for years around here. He and I work together well. He has eaten at our table. We have loaned him money for an attorney when one of his kids got into trouble with the law. He has always paid us back.
This morning C. walked in on Thomas going through a drawer in the kitchen where I keep a wallet with cash to pay him and the housekeeper. I had gone outside to check on the meat that was barbecuing in the big cooker. C. said that he jumped when she walked in, became nervous, and when asked what he was looking for, was having a hard time putting a sentence together. She told me about this after Thomas had gone outside to begin his work. We checked the wallet and no money was missing. I could feel myself feeling sick inside and so disappointed. It was as if the bad experiences from the past were coming back.
So we talked about it and decided to not make a huge issue out of this. Instead, I asked Thomas what he was looking for in the drawer. He said that he was looking for a piece of paper to write down a phone number. Okay, maybe that is plausible. So I told Thomas that if he needed something from the house to ask. Neither of us really wants to think that he was going to steal from us. But my gut tells me that I probably should not trust so completely. I know that these are desperate times. And sometimes even good people will do desperate and stupid things.
I am processing this, trying to not let it stay in my mind and simply move on. C. is remembering the Christmas a couple of years ago when the rings were stolen. I can feel the grip of uncertainty lessening. I did what I felt was the compassionate thing to do. A warning. Another chance. I think that we all deserve that.