Honesty. An old fashioned concept?

Maybe it’s because I am becoming an old git but honesty is something
I was brought up with & has always been important to me. This may sound odd coming from a garagiste, a trade renowned for its ability to “re-shape” the meaning of the word!
It’s true, though, & I have spent my adult life living by the code that honesty is the best policy. Indeed, it makes life much easier! The truth is easy to remember so that one never gets caught out - the story never changes, no matter how many times you tell it or to whom!
I am uncomfortable with anything else. I still feel guilty because at the age of 12 I stole a Cadbury’s creme egg from a sweet shop. I felt that I had betrayed the trust the shopkeeper had in me.
Being honest means that I can sleep knowing (or at least hoping) that no-one harbours bad feelings about me.
But am I living in the past? I always felt that if people trusted me then I should bestow the same quality on others & for the most part I have not regretted it until recently. It is costing me dear!
In the past 5 years I have allowed a few people to buy cars & pay over a few months. Every one of them has failed to keep to their agreement or even close! One person begged me to sell them a car & pay over 3 months & as he was french & lived in my village I thought I would help them out. The third payment was never made & I spent a year going round to his house only to be told that he had no money at all (he owed 200 euros). 10 or 20 euros a time would have done it!
Then another previous customer asked for a similar deal & after promising me that he would never do that to me, paid a deposit, took the car & moved house. I have had no money since. I have found him now & legal action will follow.
None of this had shaken my faith in human nature so when another previous customer (I know, I should have learned by now) wanted to buy a car, paying a substantial amount as a down payment & the balance when his old car was sold, I agreed to help. The car has been sold but to date the balance is still outstanding. I also helped his daughter with a car. Her boyfriend left her with a young child & no money so muggins here agreed to sell her a cheap car payable over 3 months. I have not heard a thing since she collected the car.
So what is it with people?? What is the world coming to when one tries to make life a little easier for those in difficulty only to have it thrown back in one’s face?
From now on no one gets any financial help from me. You need a car in order to work? you need to work in order to eat? You want that cheap little runabout I have for 500 euros but don’t have quite enough? Then sod off!!


I ask the same question…
What is it with people?
Can we really declare that we are old fashioned to search for honesty?
Or for consideration.
I have been trying to hold a large tea party or dinner in order to raise
money for an established animal charity and find that the hotels which I
approach are unable to say no or to give us a chance to do our thing.
All the artists are performing without a fee and anyone helping in the staging
of the event…of course do not get paid.
I would add that the venue gets most of the fee and a percentage of the entance
fee goes directly to the charity. We have some interesting entertainment inclusions
and some interesting venues.I have one more venue to approach with is a beautiful property in the Bergerac countryside.
Why do I want to do this?
To support the rejected cats and dogs in my region. To support the artists and the talent of the region and to bring them into the limelight of more artistic and kind, hopefully generous people.
To do something positive without creating a financial gain for myself.
I have a fairly large property but not big enough to create this type of event…which
will need plenty of parking and very large indoor dining/lounging areas.
And second winge …would it not be great if we could support each other just a
little more…There is so much division in the world and it carries on and on in amebic fashion.


A friend who have known for a long time and who is also a reasonably close neighbour here in France had a similar problem with a car sale. He had a relitively old people carrier that was pretty useful because when the seats came out it could carry a lot of gear. It had served him well and he advertised it for a bit under €1,000. A colleague who had recently bought a holiday home in France decided that it would be good for him. The seller made a suggestion; The vehicle was in reasonable condition and had a new roadworthiness certificate but was getting on a bit so the suggestion was that the buyer pay half up front and the second half after six months if it was still going strong. The buyer paid his half, did several round trips to France and the car kept on going as ever. When the six months came up the buyer tried everything he could to try to get out of the second payment; it’s an old car, I had to pay for an oil change, come on were mates how about letting me off… My friend eventually got his money. The buyer lost a lot of friends and had absolutely no reason for carrying out his side of the deal as, at the time, he had a salary of over £70,000. I don’t think that they have spoken since.


A wise old friend once said to me… friends are friends but business is business; never ever mix the two.

He also said never to let anyone else look after your brass. That also is so true and has been really good advice.


What sad tales. We haven’t yet moved to France but it makes me feel I have to be extra cautious when we do.

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Yes I have had people in difficult situations pull a fast one and fail to pay rent, phone bills, cash loans. I think people who come here without work or whose plans fall through can become quite unscrupulous in how they view anyone around them. Its as if they think that if you are better of than them then they have every right to tug on the frienship strings.

My Dad’s maxim was ‘never a borrower nor a lender be’. It makes for a very cold world when we are reluctant to help others out.

I have been chastised for not accepting help when I suspected that the help proffered was only to get other favours from me. Now if I ain’t got I do without !
I’m sad Mark that you have been abused like this so often. With friends like them who needs enemies ! In fact it might be better not to be such a likeable person. La maison ne fait pas de crédit…


I have seen it too, but let’s not say it’s a “French thing”… back home, on the ROCK, people would do the same, pulling fast ones whereever possible.
The only time I’ve truly been proper p1ssed off with someone is when a couple of years ago, we were building and put part of the project on hld, for financial reasons, and a “friend” stepped up to say he would give a hand… Him being a carpenter, ans us being dans la merde, we mulled over it for ages, telling him that “no, we have stopped because we quite literally cannot afford to continue”, that we had the choice between putting food on the table, or paying someone to do this work… He “kindly” insisted on helping out, and insisted that if we bought the materials, that he would sort out the rest, and not to worry, he wanted to help, we’re lovely girls, he wouldn’t see us stuck, bla bla bla… and so, he pops over on a saturday morning, spends saturday and sunday here, with us, throwing a thing together, and we feed him and open the odd beer, to keep the spirits up. We took him for meals a few times afterwards, and one day said to him “Thanks for your help, we will throw you a few quid, because you drove here, and spent your weekend with us.”… Then, he lays down his price, 45 yoyos per hour. His price? Asked us if we wanted a facture, said “work is work, I’m a tradesman and that’s my price.”

this was 2 years ago, and I STILL find it hard to shake the man’s hand.

I agree that it is not a french thing - I must have spent my life with “mug” written on my head! Along with “this one has not learned”…
As a new bank account holder at 16, a gipsy sold me a lucky heather. I tried to tell her that I did not carry cash, proudly telling her that if I needed money I had to draw it from a cash machine. She promptly escorted me to the nearest one where I felt compelled to draw 15 pounds! She told me that my generosity would be rewarded a thousandfold. I am still waiting.
A few years later I gave what looked like a businessman a lift to London. His story was that his car had been stolen from outside his hotel & he had lost his wallet as a result. Could I lend him some money to get home? 25 quid should do it. He gave me his address & phone number & I gave him mine. His address was false. No repayment was ever made.
One evening I was on the till in my petrol station when a man came in claiming to be a fellow soldier who had lost his wallet & needed to get back to barracks. I asked him for his I.D. - a regular soldier carries a special I.D card at all times - but he had left his behind, a cardinal sin & one he did not want to alert command to. I lent him 30 pounds & afterwards phoned his barracks. Nobody had heard of him.
Despite these & other incidences I still feel compelled to help those less fortunate but now I feel that the next person to require me to put my hand in my pocket can go stuff themselves. I will still stop for a stranded motorist but if money is involved - no.

The stranded motorist scam is rife in France though, during the summer, especially, there have been reports of what “seemed” to be Irish Traveller families pulling these scams off at service stations, saying they had car trouble, or lost their wallets or had them stolen, and people have parted with hundreds at a time for these folk, who are then never heard from again. The gendarmes did catch up with some this year, and left them out on bail till March or something, even though they allegedly “assaulted” the gendarmes.

Here, in the Alps, the scam is simpler, a couple of north Africans, or eastern Europeans, with a handful of kids in an old battered megane or espace, saying they need a lift to the nearest station, and a few quid for a jerrycan, or water, and they’ll let you on your merry way. I once stopped for these folks, offered to take the wife and kids to Annecy, but other than that, I wouldn’t budge, and they just wouldn’t hear of it, and started to get suspicious of ME, lol.

And to think I used to always hand fivers to those poor kids on the RER B when I lived in Paris.