Thursday, March 15, 2018

Just Like Old Times

Okay, so I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to mention it again, because it never ceases to amaze me, even after seven years living here in Bali.

Just about anywhere here, you can leave something on a table or in a chair and the thing you left will still be there when you get back! I noticed, for example that a woman had left her purse on a chair at the mall when I was there the other day. The purse remained on the chair during the hour or so that it took me to drink a coffee and read the book I had brought along. In America, that purse would be gone within minutes.

Similarly, after arriving at Starbucks this morning, I sat down at my usual table and then left my card along with a 100.000 Rupiah bill  on the tabletop while I went outside to smoke and chat with a friend. I worried not at all that someone would decide that the money was there for the taking (other than the barista, of course). I didn't give it a second thought, and didn't need to. Again, in America, in a crowded Starbucks, that money would be gone, and probably the card,, too.

There simply exists here among people a general agreement that one is not to take things that do not belong to him. I have written before of buying cigarettes at a Circle K store, forgetting the pack on the table when I departed for home, and then returning as much as an hour later to find the pack still there. In America, this pack would be subject to the 'finders keepers' rule. Here, it is subject to the recognition that somebody has no doubt forgotten the pack and will likely be back to pick it up.

Things used to be more like this in America, as anyone of my age will recall. School lockers, for instance, didn't used to have locks. One rarely took great pains to lock his car, except at night. One didn't even lock the doors of his house during the day. If one left his things on a table in any given establishment, it meant that he was coming back, not that they were up for grabs.

What happened to change this? I would not even venture a guess. Whatever happened, it would not seem something that can be undone. I suppose that in due time Bali will join in with the general spirit of larceny among men as cultural contracts and agreements corrode--but for the time being, it is pleasant indeed to relax in a gentler, more secure world.

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