“Leave Bags at the Front” … ???

I have managed 55 years in this world
without stealing a single thing in my life.

which means that it is impossible for me
– as an honest and honourable man –
to even imagine the type of self-centred presumption
and contempt for decent human beings
as so evidently exists in shop-owners and store managers
who display, at the entrance to their establishments,
signs demanding that potential customers

“leave all bags at the front”.

I understand that the generality of the human race
has deteriorated in morals and basic manners
to such a degree over the past thirty years, that multitudes

cannot communicate without filthy profanity and vulgar obscenities;

cannot move without a TV, radio; headphones or speakers
blasting noise into their brains;

or think independently of “looking it up” on the Internet.

I realise – see it with my own eyes, that men now dress like slobs
– for pity’s sake, some do not even have the decency
to remove their hats when seated at a table in a restaurant.

The basic good manners that were displayed in public
by every and any mature adult fifty years ago –
have been utterly eradicated from society;
and human beings may have collectively descended
to below the level of animals –

but that, surely, does not give you license
to abandon discernment and the application of discretion,
and presume that EVERY customer who enters your shop
is a thief deserving of having their moral character
degraded by you.

Of course, you do not remove the (often large) ‘handbags’
… of women;
or bar them from entering your premises.

You wouldn’t dare.

A woman with a bag … is a Customer.
A man with a bag … is a Thief.

In a ‘New World’ of mindless compliance
where every value of decency and morality
is sacrificed on the altar of ease,
and the pursuit of constant entertainment,

I realise that multitudes will see nothing wrong at all
in being presumed a thief, and therefore
are happy to leave their personal possessions
at the front of your shop –

but there are a few of us – “old folks” – still walking this earth,
who have lived lives of courtesy
and consideration towards other people;

who were raised with moral integrity and “old fashioned”
dare-I-say ‘biblical’ values of conduct and self control.

I will not willingly surrender my bag to a thug with a gun:
I certainly will not surrender it to you,
who complacently presumes that I am a thief.

I have observed – since the mid-1980’s in particular,
the eradication of manners and moral decency in this world;
and have watched selfishness, vanity,
and crude speech and behaviour
rise to levels that are nothing less than obscene.

Which only makes me more determined to never sacrifice
the moral standards and values with which I was raised,

in order to buy some iToy or vanity possession
that does nothing more than gratify greed,
or waste my brain on mindless entertainment.

Especially when I would have to hand over my personal belongings
and, by so doing, agree with the shop-keeper’s
defamation of my character.

It may well be that I am the only person walking this earth
who will not sell his character
for the sake of buying and acquiring some … thing.

There is nothing in your shop important enough
for me to submit
to you degrading my moral character.

The Atrocity, I suppose, is not so much
having the callous contempt of a bully:

but in being so bereft of a conscience
as to feel no shame because of it.

This is an age when corporate supermarkets hire less staff
and demand customers scan and load their own groceries;
– in bags that They have to provide themselves.
( All to ‘Save the Earth’ … of course. )

But such brazen contempt for customers
need not be a hallmark of your shop, surely ?

It is, of course, merely a suggestion but –

How would it be then, shop-keeper,
if you exercised enough of a moral centre
to display appreciation for those
who seek to spend their money in your shop …

rather than immediately presume
that anyone who walks through your door

is a thief ?

P Livingstone
2017

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