One of the first things I noticed about living in Somerset was how trusting people were. In Odcombe, the village we lived in for a year, locals would leave baskets of eggs (freshly laid by their hens that morning) by the front gate with an honesty box – trusting you to leave a quid, or whatever they were asking, in exchange for half a dozen eggs. Other villagers left baskets of apples and figs with a note encouraging passers-by to help themselves.
In London, you can’t even leave your own plants in your front garden for (rational) fear they’ll be pinched. And I miss that trusting, neighbourly, community vibe. But then on Saturday, a Londoner proved that it’s not just in the shires that people are trusting…
I was walking through Crouch End, on route to my parents’ house, and a sign in Jealous Gallery caught my eye. They were advertising framed letter prints for a fiver. When I’ve been in before the prints have cost around £150-£200 and I can’t often justify spending that amount but I’ll happily hand over a fiver. So I went in.
After eyeing up the more expensive framed pieces, I stopped at the framed letters. There wasn’t an ‘A’ – but there was an ‘R’, so I decided to buy it for Rich:
The guy working at Jealous explained that a frame-maker he knows was getting rid of offcuts and when asked what would happen to all the odd pieces of wood, the guy said it was waste. So Jealous man asked him what it would cost to make frames out of the ‘waste’ and the frame-maker said he could put something together for a fiver. Jealous man commissioned a load of little frames, popped in random letters (Jealous is a printmakers, as well as gallery) and now they’re hanging on the wall.
I liked the story, and I loved the ‘R’ so I went to pay. They couldn’t take a card payment for such a small amount so I said I’d go to an ATM. But Jealous man said not to worry, he trusted that I’d drop the dosh in at some point, and to go and have a nice Saturday.
It’s not often that a shop owner lets you leave without paying. But it’s not often that you ask, either. Being trusted to pay my fiver (which I sent in the post this afternoon) renewed my faith in Londoners and has instilled in me a feeling of positivity towards Jealous man and the gallery/ shop. It works for both of us: I didn’t have to rush to the ATM, and felt like he trusted me; he’ll get his money and the knowledge that I’ll be returning to spend more $$$.
The supermarket self checkout idea stemmed from market research that proved that if you make customers feel like you trust them, by letting them check out their own groceries, they’re less likely to steal anything. People like to be trusted. It works well in business, but in every day life too. It’s important to be vigilant in London (there are pickpockets/ chancers) but it’s equally as important to sometimes just have faith in humans. They’re mostly trust-worthy.