Trust Issues

The Delicate Bargain of Trust

The foolishness of trusting what you love because you love it

Alexander Chee
Human Parts
Published in
15 min readJun 28, 2018

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OnOn my first day in Florence, Italy, three years ago, I went into a tiny gelato shop near the apartment I was renting for the month, and after I ordered gelato, reached into my pocket to pay, and realized I didn’t have enough. I struggled to explain this in my limited Italian to the shopkeeper, a friendly young man who listened perhaps for a second before he breezily said, “Pay me later,” in excellent English.

I admit I was stunned. I’d never met him before. But what was interesting to me was that as he said this, I thought, I will. And I did. For the rest of the month, I went back and bought gelato whenever I had the impulse. I’ve been invited back to teach at the program that brought me there for several years now, and I go back all the time to this little shop for gelato, also wine, which he also sells. I make a point of going even when I am put up in neighborhoods that are not near him. He remembers me with a smile, a look of recognition that I don’t get from most other places I shop, perhaps because I came back to really pay him that first time. I remember him because he trusted me. He remembers me because he trusted me and I came through.

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Alexander Chee
Human Parts

Author of the novels THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT and EDINBURGH, and the essay collection HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL.