One time a man I had never met told me he was an honest guy—and right there in that moment I totally believed him. I remember considering the proposition for a moment, and then believed with him that it was so.
I had just moved from my home town and was getting my first apartment set up. Wet behind the ears is certainly a given, but on top of that I’m not a very good judge of people on first impressions, either. He was the maintenance guy, and he was explaining that I could either have maintenance done by appointment, or I could sign his little paper which gave him the right to enter the premises when I wasn’t home so he could do the work. I think he noticed me doing the calculus, was this worth the risk, saw me sizing him up and so on. He looked at me and said, “It’s ok, I’m an honest-John.”
There was no reason for me to believe him. I didn’t know him, anyone can make that claim—it’s essentially meaningless. He had a huge tattoo—tattooed men scare me. Large, visible tattoos mean you’ve lived a semi-rough to rough life and you’re probably a maintenance guy because you’re an ex-con. But there was something about the earnestness in his face, and his choice to use the term “honest-John” (now that I think of it, he could have said “honest guy” which would actually make a lot more sense), and so quite easily I decided to trust him.
And everything was fine. He did plenty of work in our apartment and, despite his tattoos, nothing ever went missing.
What’s the point? My point is that you should never believe such a huge claim as someone telling you they’re an honest person when you first meet them. In fact, whenever someone insists on a point like that when they first meet you (I’m honest, I’m not crazy, I’m not a murderer) it’s usually pretty strong evidence that they are the opposite of what they claim.
But…perhaps sometimes, you just know.