I shop at a local hardware store. I have since the day I got into town. Mary and I needed a washer and dryer for our new home and someone we met, our new friend, suggested we go to this particular store. He said “See George”.
We did and have bought the things we needed from him over and over again: barbecue grills, mailboxes, yard tools, propane, cleaning products, flags, snow shovels, nuts, bolts, nails, and screws.
It happens to be close and convenient, but that is not why I go. The prices are good but, from time to time, the “Big Box” stores beat them. The people are courteous, the place is old though clean as a whistle, but it is not for any of these reasons that I go there.
I have never found what someone told me there was not true. This is not to say that other places lie to you, I have discovered disingenuousness on only the rarest occasions in Southern Illinois. When they say, “If it does not work bring it back” they mean it. But not in the same way the folks at this place mean it.
I trust them.
First I trusted George, and that trust infected my sense of the whole place. It was verified over and over again. The people that worked there trusted George. They were infected too.
Trust makes any organization work, and the confounding thing is that, as trust dissipates in an organization, it never does so all at once. It is a slow relentless process, one incident after another. One day it’s gone but you never saw it leave.
Trust takes a generation or two to build up, but you can give it up in a moment, if you are not careful. In no organization, save possibly a place of worship, is trust more important than a schoolhouse. The product we seek there, the opportunity for change, is fleeting and as difficult to grasp as a wisp of smoke.
When I go to get a carriage bolt, 5” by 3/8”, galvanized with a washer, and a square nut rather than a hex nut, I know it when I see it. If for some reason it doesn’t work when I get I to the house, I can bring it back, and, as a trustworthy place, they will take it.
When I sign up for a course at the university I am not sure what I am getting, but I will sign up over and over, eventually earning a degree, if I trust the place. If I know they will give it their best shot. I can’t bring it back, because I am not even sure what it is that I purchased. The sense of trust that we are doing our best must be palpable.
Thick in the air.
No nonsense and with bell ringing clarity, the place cares for me. Looking at the university in search of trust always requires you to look in the mirror. You have to be able to know that you are doing the right thing too… giving it your best shot.
Two way trust. Like a marriage.
Our University will flourish as trust abounds. It is the most basic component of human relationships, and without it you can’t begin to get or give an education.
Trust is the foundation of learning.