Friday, April 29, 2005

Have you noticed how honest and generous people are?

On my current trip, I took a shuttle from the airport to my hotel. I was the last one off the shuttle, which had 10 passengers besides me. All the bags were in the back, yet mine was there when I got off. It would have been very easy for any of the other passengers to have taken mine, a relatively small rolling suitcase, with theirs. Yet no one did. At most airports, there is very little attention paid to ensuring that people leave the baggage claim area with only their own luggage. But again there is very little theft. Why is that?

It also seems to be the case that a great many people rely on the generosity of others for their living. We leave tips for people we will never see again: waiters in restaurants, taxi drivers, valets, etc. Why do we do this? Embarrassment? Knowledge that the person depends on it for their living? I don't know. But it does seem to work.


Matthew said...

This can be very different in other cultures. A Chinese friend of mine says many public restrooms in Chinese cities cannot keep seat covers stocked because people steal the whole bunch for use at home. She also suggested that I not carry a wallet in my back pocket if I ever visit China.

Matthew said...

Another point I failed to mention: My friend says gratuities are rare in Chinese culture. This was one element of confusion in the culture shock she experienced when she moved here; she didn't know when tip was expected from her.

rweber said...

The example should be limited to the context of shared vulnerability of all travelers. The tradition of hospitality or mutual consideration shown to or among travellers has been around for millenia. When the issue is the liklihood of having your wallet with credit cards & identification turned into the guard desk at a major office building, if you were to drop it by the front door, I think the judgement about common courtesy would be quite different.