Trusting one’s fellow man seems to be a scarce commodity these days. The thought of leaving your house unlocked or your car windows down becomes more and more of a ridiculous idea — especially in urban environments — as our civilization becomes more corrupt. For fear of violent youths we install metal detectors and cameras in our schools. Terrorism is still a threat, so we have full body scans at airports. Are these preventative; do they serve a purpose? Though some may argue over the extent of these measures, security has its place in today’s world. It’s also quite telling of where we are as a society, both nationally and globally: we expect the worst from everyone.
Which is why the eyebrows were raised to such an extreme level at a seemingly unmanned yard sale with a sign that stated: “Honor System Yard Sale: Items are priced, but if you don’t like the price, pay what you want. Place money in envelope and in mailbox on porch. Do Not Steal!!! Pay something for what you want. Thank You!!” Dishes, clothes, books and trinkets of all kinds were arranged neatly on shelves and tables. Assessing the situation, not only were these items sitting out, unwatched, but there were four envelopes lying beside the merchandise, for which their bonafide, trustworthy customers were supposed to deposit their cash. They literally left what should have been their money — assuming anyone paid — out in plain sight. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the house either — just the items these people put out on display for the neighborhood.
Perhaps it’s telling of an old school thought process — or maybe it’s right on point — but this just seemed absolutely foolish. If you grow up in and around a highly populated city,
have had cars and apartments broken into, you deadbolt the locks, will walk blocks back to your car after finally locating a spot and making it to your door — because you’re not 100% sure you locked the door even though you triple checked it. The notion of “If I don’t know you…I don’t trust you” is fair and solid. However, some people think of a world with unlocked doors as liberating and giving them peace of mind. If the world was all sunshine and lollipops, urban doors would still be locked. Most city dwellers are raised with this philosophy, and it gives them comfort knowing if anyone’s coming in that they’re going to have to work for it and homeowners will hear it.
It’s just the reality of the world we’re in. If faced with paying or not paying at an unsupervised yard sale, it’s safe to speculate that 75 percent of people aren’t going to do the right thing. And would these upstanding citizens — who respect the guidelines of weekend proprietorships — leave their money in an envelope that’s going to be left sitting on the ground for any passer by to snag?
But it didn’t end with examining the honor system. There was slightly more to this small
yard sale. Walking along the sidewalk, you would have seen the side of the sign that informed people of the sale. When perusing the myriad of items, it was noticed that the flip side read: “Adoption Center.” Perhaps there was some hand-off negotiations going down that kept them from overseeing the front operation. It’s probably not easy to keep orphans in chains down in the basement.
Ultimately, not everyone’s a cynic. But there seems to be a line between closing off the world and common sense. Maybe there are those who trust people enough to hold up their end — even when no one’s looking. Being thieves themselves operating a creepy horror-movie-style orphanage out of their basement, they would have to trust their customers or risk being caught, ridiculed and labeled as hypocrites. And when it comes to matters of money, people still believe that honor among thieves can still hold up in such a crooked world.