I've been thinking lately about the assumption of trust in society, and how very little there seems to be of it. While innocent until proven guilty may be our constitutional right in the courtroom, the behavior outside of it seems to be more of the "we're going to assume everyone's going to attempt to do something bad" variety, especially when it comes to shopping. If you go in most clothing stores, you're very often asked to check your bag. The assumption: you'll stick merchandise in your bag if they don't take it from you. How about when you try something on? You're given a number so the attendant can count how many items you bring in to the changing room and how many you return with. And those plastic security tags, ugh, how many times have you tried something on and can't get a sense of the fit because a bulging piece of plastic is adding two inches to your hip? Or you've arrived home, only to discover that a salesperson failed to remove it? (Good luck trying to get it removed by returning to the store: "Uh yeah, they forgot to remove this…" Glaring salesperson: "Really. Do you have the receipt?" "Uh, no, I never keep track of those." Sirens wail in background…)
Anyway, I've been thinking of this lately because the other day as I was walking down the street, I observed someone purchasing a newspaper from a street machine. And I realized that those machines work exactly as they always have: once you put in the coins, the door is released and you grab the top paper from the pile. You could take all the papers, if you were so inclined. The assumption: people will only take one paper, for a variety of reasons. Now if you think about what I'm saying a little more, you realize that the cost per paper, and the potential loss, is far less than the potential loss to a store when an item of clothing is stolen. And that perhaps all the security measures are simply based on economics: the higher the value of the item, the more effort expended to prevent its theft (speculation: that's why there's very little security in the supermarket, although I think they have barriers to exit that are quite high. Ha ha, get it? Barriers to exit? Have you ever tried to get out of the supermarket without going through the checkout? It's damn near impossible!).
Conclusion and my original point: I like the implicit trust associated with the newspaper dispenser. I'd like to see more of that in society, but I fear we're going in the opposite direction, and the assumption that we're thieves to be thwarted is predominating our interactions. Can you think of more examples of implicit trust, or distrust, in our everyday lives? I'd love to hear more.