What Happened to The Handshake?

There was a time in this country when, like the expression said, people’s word was their bond.  Deals were sealed over a handshake.  Deals of Integrity.  Deals of Mutual Trust. Deals that stood the test of time.

Not just small deals, either.  BIG deals.  Because people gave their word.  And their word meant something.

I will never forget one deal in particular.  It happened about twenty years ago.

We had been looking for a fishing boat.  A used boat; to be sure.  We had no illusions about being able to afford a new boat; even back then, they were “out of sight” expensive.  We wanted a particular make and style of fishing boat.  Unfortunately, it was so popular it was extremely hard to find.

My dear husband was in Virginia at a meeting.  I was at home in Florida.  Suddenly, he called me.  He had spotted an ad in the classifieds for the EXACT boat we wanted! (Classifieds???  Back in the days before Internet… oh my, what did we do back then?!)    🙂

My hubby had called the boat owner (who lived about 100 miles from our house), agreed on the price and and bought the boat over the phone, sight unseen!  After hearing about the boat’s age and features, my wise husband knew it would not last until he got back home a few days later.

He told the owner I would pick up the boat the next day, and bring a check to pay for it.

So that’s what I did.  The next day, I drove to the boat owner’s house.  He took me out on a nearby lake to demonstrate the boat’s various features and give me multiple instructions. (I took copious notes!)  Then we went to his house to settle up.

I handed him a personal check for the agreed-upon sales price.  Five figures.  He looked at me and asked, “Didn’t you bring a cashier’s check?”  I looked at him, stunned.  It had never occurred to me to get a cashier’s check!  Why?  Because I never write a check without being certain I have enough money in the account to cover the check.

I told him as much… even as it dawned on me that this was not an inconsequential amount of money.  Of course he would want the assurance of a same as cash financial instrument. He had never set eyes on me before.  What was I thinking?

What was I thinking?  I guess I was just doing business the way I do business.  My word is my bond.  I was also very aware of wanting to please You, Lord.  I was a “baby” Christian back then… barely seven years old.

I told him all this, even as I told him I would gladly drive the 20+ miles to the nearest bank to get a cashier’s check.  But I also showed him my checkbook balance, so he would know there was more than enough in my account to cover the check.

The awesome thing was… he believed me.  He trusted me… as he should have.

Because I was trustworthy.

A significant deal, sealed in the moment by a handshake.  And it led to the most wonderful conversation!  About Right and Wrong.  About Responsibility and Integrity.  About the overall direction of our society.  About You, Lord… and the difference You had already made in my life.


Fast forward to today.  I just read through some paperwork from a surgeon’s office.  A friend who has scheduled some upcoming surgery wanted to get my “take” on it.  As I read the “fine print,” I couldn’t help but think back to my deal of long ago and wonder:

“What happened to the handshake?”

This surgery is not inconsequential.  My friend has two health insurance plans, which are likely to pick up most of the estimated charges.  But the surgeon insists that, whatever the “patient responsibility” portion turns out to be, the patient must pay it in full before the surgery occurs.

Sad… isn’t it, Lord?  But, I guess, not surprising.  Because the times, they are… changing.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…”  (Matthew 24:12)

So we need to be more vigilant than ever.  To be the people of integrity You have called (and created) us to be.

“This, then, is how you ought to regard us:  as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”  (1 Corinthians 4:1)

I agree, Lord.  Shall we… shake on it?

Abba’s Girl

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