June 24, 2017
So my neighbor thought that I was being naive. Most people in these circumstances, he said, would take advantage of the opportunity to make a profit; perhaps they would get another repair that needed doing, and ascribe the cost to the repair of the damage that I had caused. All that I”who had spent a large portion of my career among criminals, and who had traveled in several civil wars and had made reflections on evil my favorite reading”could urge against his argument was that the owner of the car sounded nice on the telephone and did not give me the impression of being someone who would try to cheat me.
In fact, I wanted to put even the thought that she might do so out of my mind, for it was a useless and destructive thought. It would burrow into my mind, as I was told in my childhood that earwigs burrow into your brain upon entering your ear. Since there were earwigs in the grass, you had to learn to disregard what you were told if you wanted to lie down or go to sleep on the lawn, which I often did.
I have succeeded in putting the thought that my neighbor will treat me dishonestly from my mind, in the sense that I do not for a moment believe it to be true. For me, the owner of the car has behaved as honorably as I: for example, by not claiming compensation for the waste of time and effort I have put her to, and which I would not be in a position to refuse.
I remember that Doctor Johnson says somewhere that it is better occasionally to be cheated than to trust no one. The paranoid person will occasionally be right, but he will never find equanimity.