Suspicion and/or trust

I’m a pretty gullible person, I think, and tend to see the good in people - a scammer’s delight. Anyway, we arrived at the Channel Tunnel in Calais at about 2pm yesterday and had a couple of hours to wait for our train. While we were getting an overpriced salad we were approached by a chap telling us that he’d arrived on a coach at 9am. The coach had broken down and the part wouldn’t be available until late that evening. So everyone on the coach - about 20 people were stuck in the terminal. Could we give him a lift? What to think. Drug runner? Illegal immigrant? Was it really true? Why didn’t he have any luggage - just a laptop. This seemed really dodgy. But if he’d got through passport control it must be ok. Mustn’t it? As he wanted to get to central London we said sorry, we weren’t going that way.

While drinking our overpriced tea we noticed a group of people surrounded by luggage and overheard a young guy with a rucksack saying how he was supposed to be meeting his girlfriend in Brighton in the evening and she was waiting in the YHA while he was marooned in Calais. So maybe the story was true…

Off I went to the information office. Had the coach really broken down? Yes. Were they marooned until the part arrived? Yes. Was it ok to give someone a lift? Of course! I didn’t ask why the hell the staff weren’t doing more to get them lifts and to remove doubts such as ours, but maybe I should have.

Anyway, we went up the the young guy and said ‘did I overhear you saying you needed a lift to Brighton?’ A woman with him was so happy we’d give him a lift that she burst into tears and gave me a Christmas jumper.

So we took him to Brighton, dropped him off at his hotel in central Brighton and went on our way. He was only 20, from western Germany and a thoroughly delightful young man, a couple of years younger than our sons. We went about an hour out of our way but he got his weekend with his girlfriend.

I was probably right to be suspicious but you hear so much that perhaps it’s sensible to be cautious. But what a shame for perfectly innocent people to be viewed with suspicion. I do hope the part arrived and that the coach got them all to London safely.


Of course you were right to excercise caution,however in the end you also managed to ascertain someone with a genuine predicament,and then did a really nice thing,if only everyone showed the same compassion,the world would be a better place!


I am wary of people begging, e.g. supposedly homeless people in London, My mind being poisoned by so many stories that the people you see in prominent places have other lives and find that a lucrative source of income, or that the money all goes on drugs. But recently I had just bought a take-away after leaving the theatre and heading for the Tube when I passed someone begging outside the station entrance, and offered him my take-away. He took it with profuse thanks and started eating it ravenously, so much so that he was clearly hungry. It made me feel so guilty for the others I have ignored - maybe offering food is a way to differentiate between those hungry and others.


Absolutely right to be cautious, but good on you for helping out, after you had checked.
I had a dodgy one a long while back, 1980’ish, and it was a guy in army uniform so I thought I was doing the right thing, after that I said no to all.
However in 2016 we met a couple in Kruger NP who were stuck with a broken car, it would take 1 week to get the spares etc & they needed to get to the J’burg area, & that was 6 hours drive away. My wife said she was nervous but OK with it so off we went. 6 hours later we were invited in for coffee & have been in touch ever since, plus a lot more.


Wonderful - all admiration here for you.

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That’s very kind, though I wasn’t looking for admiration. Rather I’m feeling rather that my first instinct shouldn’t have been suspicion. But then I suppose there is a fine line between unwarranted suspicion and sensible caution.

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I think it entirely understandable and reasonable that you were suspicious. I know I would have been. But you made an effort once you had more information - most people, I suspect, would not.

Caution must be first priority tough, i use that route a lot and some very odd things go on there, particularly in the surrounding area. Granted the people concerned had passed boarder checks. Good on your decision.

Commendable, HH.

Beyond our personal character, the question of suspicion versus trust when confronting a stranger depends on the impression that the person gives.

I have a daily commute of an hour on the train from Chicago to our place. There is a young guy, cleanly dressed with a baby face and very soft voice, whom I see at least three times a month. He boards the train five minutes before it departs with the same story of having forgotten his wallet at home and his need to get to Fox Lake (the final destination of the train), can anyone spare him some change for the ticket fare?
You have people who give him money and others, regular riders, who identify him and call the conductor to take him off the train. I was asking myself if the proper thing to do was to warn the commuters when the guy shows up in our car but decided against it. Perhaps with his little scam he is allowing people to feel kind and good about themselves without costing too much.

I think sensible caution is entirely the right reaction HH. I like to think I would have done the same as you, but honestly I don’t know whether I would.

Of course if he’d been carrying a UnitiCore under his arm rather than a laptop…



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