THE WORD IS usaldusväärne. It means worthy of trust. Trustworthy. Something upon which you can depend. It is a dependable word, and yet deceptive, too. Recently someone complained to me about a colleague who arrived late to a meeting. “If it was the first time, that would be okay, but she’s late all the time. For me, that means that this person is not trustworthy.”

I’ve written too much about timeliness in my time here, but this for me brought out two interesting facets of what can be called the Estonian Mind. The first is to see other people not as individuals who merit a sort of commonplace compassion, but rather as other free agents, walking business fronts. A person is not just flesh and blood and feeling, but rather a social implement, someone who has a set of skills that may be of use to me. Another person is a tool that I can use to get what I want. Social interaction is a kind of on-going marketplace where various individuals exchange skill sets to advance each other’s agendas.

Another curious aspect of the psychology of usaldusväärne is the idea that by merely displaying competence, a person can gain others’ trust. You may have another colleague who completes all tasks assigned, is never late, is always properly dressed, and is just a miraculous and meritorious manager of time and function, and yet is stealing thousands of euros from the company while nobody else is looking. Criminals can be quite charming, can’t they? Here, I might argue that being on time to a meeting does not equate trustworthiness. Being on time only means that you have a watch. You may still be a conniving crook.

These are thoughts that I will never share with friends and acquaintances here. I fear that even venturing into the world of intuition will provoke a certain impatience, or, even worse, render me as being less usaldusväärne than I was before.

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