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Shame on the Fools

February 29 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

Trust is a tricky thing. It is not surprising to hear people talk about how they were deceived by the person they least expected. That is the peculiarity of deception - it is an invisible sword and we only bleed and feel the pain after we are stabbed.

How can we trust the person we just met? What is our criteria? Could it be that their appearance is what matters to us? The way they talk and act? Or does it all depend on our sheer instinct?

There is a misconception that people who are down to earth and sentimental are trustworthy, while people who are often mean and insensitive are deceptive. But that is not always the case as I found out the hard way recently.

On a bright Saturday afternoon, a stranger walked into my family’s shop. He was a slim young man dressed casually in a shirt and jeans. He approached my aunt saying he would fix her shop’s canopy, as its tarpaulin was torn. This was quite a coincidence, as she was looking for someone to fix it for her.

The young man swore he was handy and nimble at the art of carpentry. He further went and demonstrated his skills by fixing the counter at the shop. He even seemed religious and down to earth as he went about proving his skills.

My aunt, initially sceptical, finally decided to hire him to fix the canopy. There was only one problem. A new steel frame had to be built for the canopy frame. And because it was a busy day for her, she could not go buy it herself. She did not know the stranger well enough to give him 1,000 Br to buy it either.

It was also not the first time that men had come promising to fix the canopy, only to disappear after taking money to buy the steel frame. Thus, she sent me along with the guy.

As we headed out, he insisted on carrying my umbrella. The whole time we were on the road, he was talking about his work, the things he built and made. I was profoundly interested to hear his stories and even promised to hire him so he could fix some things for me at my house.

The whole time, I wondered why he was being this nice and if he was actually capable of doing all the things he said he could. I questioned his intentions. After all, it is not unheard of to come across people that think highly of themselves but rarely walk the talk.

Although I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I watched the guy like a hawk when he paid for the steel after we reached the shop. I was worried he would talk to the shopkeeper behind my back to hike up the price and split the extra money two ways. He did not and I was relieved.

Since we had a hard time finding a shop that sells the steel, by the time we returned, it was getting dark.

As a result, the guy decided to set up the frame the next morning.  My aunt gave him supper, made him coffee and gave him some pocket money for the counter he fixed earlier. He seemed like a nice guy and my aunt liked him, because he kept invoking God, his archangels and the Virgin Mary in the middle of their conversation as much as he could.

The next day he showed up with another guy who brought with him an arc welder. Just as he was starting to work, he said some tools were missing and he needed to get them. He asked my aunt if she could advance him 250 Br and she did.

He was neither seen nor heard of again after that. It turned out that not only did he take the money and disappear, but he had also managed to get a hold of the welder’s cell phone. My aunt ended up giving the welder some money for transportation, as he did not have any money on him, or so he claimed.

Whether or not the second guy was an accomplice or a victim remains a mystery. The construction materials for the canopy he made us buy also remain at the house collecting dust, rust and serving as a reminder of his deception and our naivety. We later found out that the steel he made us buy for the canopy was not necessary. That was also a waste of money.

Shame on her for getting fooled twice and shame on me for not trusting my guts.

It is unclear why a person would go through all that trouble just to steal a few hundred Birr when he could have taken his time earning our trust and manoeuvring to steal more money or valuable stuff from us. But what threw me off was how nice he seemed.

Why would people wear masks, swear and deceive others with a straight face? Who can we trust? Or are they the enlightened ones and we the fools?

PUBLISHED ON Feb 29,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1035]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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