Common decent people and their decent common shits

by Nic Olson

I recently decided that wasting food is worse than eating meat. Marginally worse. So for that reason, and for that reason only, I’ve eaten meat three times in the last four days. Chicken, pork, and I don’t remember. I gave meat the benefit of the doubt, and it has given me the benefit of clean and loose bowel motions, as if I were cleaning myself out with Ayurvedic medicine. I have been to the toilet at least eight times today.

I believe in common decency. The common good of man, all that flowery shit. When someone is hitchhiking, they are likely just cheap or broke. When someone is looking for a place to stay on Couchsurfing, complete strangers, they are likely just interesting, frugal, travellers like me, not out to case the house and give me bags of laced drugs. When someone walks into the shop, they are likely just a bit of a douchebag, and not a douchebag that is clueless and soulless and trash enough to steal from a locally owned store.

But then there are the cases when I’m wrong. When hitchhikers kill their drivers, or demand sexual favours. When Couchsurfers are ungrateful, dirty thieves, freeloading and abusing the system. When young, rich, well-dressed assholes come into the shop and steal because they would rather spend that money on cocaine or parts for the car their parents bought them.

And then I get upset. Because I am branded as naive. As too trusting and too innocent. I automatically revert into my natural self, cynical and distrustful. It has taken time to grow into that person, the one that gives the benefit of the doubt.

None of this has happened. I haven’t been killed by a hitchhiker. I haven’t been ripped off by a Couchsurfer. I have, however, been stolen from at the shop before. The nature of retail, they say. The nature of man, I say. When common decency takes a common shit. And ruins it for us all.

The man camping across from me, also alone, invited me over for a meal. I was sitting in front of my barbecue fire, eating raw carrots and beets, breathing in the loneliness that I have grown accustomed to. He fed me homemade sausage, the pork I spoke of, and corn on the cob. He left me with five cobs of corn for the following day, two huge potatoes from his garden, and a handshake. I didn’t trust him, then I likely trusted him too much. Then I went to sleep, woke up, and eventually cooked a massive meal of corn and potatoes.

This was supposed to be one of the few uplifting posts that Balls of Rice produces. About how no matter what, there is a common good in all people. But dammit, I’m not so sure.

I have given the benefit of the doubt, and I’m just waiting for that doubt to come running out of bowels. To shank me and take my wallet.