If people get upset because you don’t blindly believe every word they say, you probably shouldn’t blindly believe any words that they say
“Café Du Soleil closed down,” said the hippy across the table after I’d recommended it to a girl that was in town for a few more days.
I had trouble believing this, since I’d eaten there recently. I like it because they serve free range meat and eggs, and they have wild boar bacon. Also, it is a pleasant atmosphere and the people there are really nice.
Not only was I appalled at the prospect of this little nook of a café going under, but I had trouble believing it, since there had been no signs of trouble when I’d last been there. So I did what I always do when I doubt something that someone said – I asked questions.
But the hippy wasn’t having any of it. She seemed offended that I dared question her statement – something that always happens but I always forget: people don’t like to be questioned. I don’t know why they shouldn’t – it is everyone’s job to perform due diligence in establishing the truth. First of all, there is another café called Café Deux Soleil on the very same street (perhaps ironically they are a vegetarian establishment).
This hippy pronounced and spelled her name in a pretentious way, and if one listened to her speak, they may have called her pretentious. I’m not sure if it is more reasonable to call her a hipster or a hippy – she certainly hadn’t endeared herself to me, but I had no desire to upset her.
But instead of answering any questions, she would only repeat her original statement – that she spoke to the owner whom she did not like, and that he said it was closed and that she was glad of it. This was problematic on several fronts – 1) why didn’t she like one of my favourite breakfast places in Vancouver? Is she talking about the same place? 2) the people that run the place are so nice! Why didn’t she like them? Is she talking about the same place? 3) Why wouldn’t she give a ballpark of when this conversation occur, or verify where the place she was talking about was located?
At this point she had become more than defensive, and, without yielding any further information, assured me that she was talking about the one I was thinking of. She wasn’t convincing, but it was enough to make me doubt myself – I think that I tend to give people more credit than they deserve, but perhaps that’s just me over-compensating for tending to not believing anything that anyone says. I tried to call the establishment, but there was no answer, which was a bad sign. It seemed that she was right (although it still didn’t add up). She was so upset that I had doubted her and asked follow-up questions that she neglected to speak to me for the rest of the evening. I’ve never got on well with hyper-sensitive prickly folk, but I still regretted upsetting someone at the very neutral drawing club (however douchey she happened to be).
Being doubted, though, isn’t really a good reason to get upset. Either you can back up your claims, or you can’t. Why should anyone expect a complete stranger to simply believe their word without question? It is upsetting, to me, that this would be the tendency, since it discourages dialogue and the determination of inconsistencies, which can often lead to greater revelations (the one I was hoping for was that there was a 3rd — perhaps Cafe De Soleil, or a Café Duh Soleil – this one would have been some kind of comedy house, and I perhaps might have been equally upset had it been closing before I found out about it…).
I had been in the habit over the last few years of giving people the benefit of a doubt, for the sake of keeping people happy and being politic — but I have to say that I usually regretted it. Whenever I deferred to someone else’s judgment (even though I often thought I knew better, but I played along for the sake of not upsetting the person in question, or as a demonstration of trust), I tended to get burned for it. I question myself quite considerably, but the data would suggest that my judgment is better than everyone else’s. So I should stop deferring to them, unless my own judgment dictates otherwise. Politeness was never really my thing anyway.
Now in this case I had kind of accepted that the place was closed (because it seemed unreasonable that someone would lie about something like that. What would be the motive? What would be the payoff?), but her reaction to further questioning must have made me at least a little suspicious, and I had a nagging need to verify.
And so I made a point of checking it out when I was later in that neighbourhood.
Sure enough, Café Du Soleil was open. I poked my head inside to make sure it was real. I have eaten there several times since that evening, AND it even survived the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns.
so what the fuck? What was she talking about? Who told her it was closed? Which café was she talking about? Did she believe her statement, or was she lying? And if so, why? Was there a 3rd Café xx Soeil? Where was it? Why, why, why???
I actually ate at Café Du Soleil this morning, and for the first time had the fruit salad (with bacon on the side). I usually get a coffee while I’m there (they are very good about refilling the cup) but it was really just too hot. Not that I mind a hot drink on a hot day, but coffee can be a bit much.
The point is that in the end, it serves to find out for yourself. And the reality is that humans are not good at determining the truth. You shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting to verify a given fact. I find blind faith far more offensive than reasonable doubt. So should we all.
But also, if someone is going out of their way to seem mysterious or exotic — via their hair, or their clothing, or the way they spell and pronounce their name — it is entirely reasonable to view their statement with a little extra suspicion. I’m not sure I did before, but I probably do now.