Banana Man


I was nineteen years old living in Taranto, Italy. I was working with a Frenchman who was older and more experienced than me. He spoke better Italian, understood the local culture, and helped me move forward with my work.

We lived on the second floor of an apartment building with a balcony on the south side. Each morning I sat on the balcony to study and prepare for the day. I was easily distracted watching mothers hang their laundry out their windows. If I looked down I saw children in their school uniforms walking to school, some of whom were kicking a soccer ball. If I turned to the left I watched a butcher hang a side of beef outside his shop for the flies to freely eat and his customers to buy. Next to the butcher shop was a man selling bananas from a little cart. Our mail was left with him and we picked it up every afternoon.

My parents were consistent letter writers never missing a week until that fateful week which stretched into an entire month without mail. I was surprised, then frustrated, followed by disappointment, and finally the feeling of abandonment.

I celebrated when I started getting mail again. I tried to understand what happened so it could be prevented in the future. I learned that in the first missing letter, my parents had included two dollars. Those of us sharing the apartment suspected the banana man was keeping my mail anticipating more American money.

This experience woke me up to how easy trust can be lost. The banana man was someone I thought I could trust and did trust until that trust was broken. It is so important that we teach our children the resiliency skill of trust and help them learn how to trust, who to trust, and how to be trustworthy themselves. We should reinforce the concept that being trustworthy is an essential component of a happy, successful life.

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