I’ve done it.
Others have asked me.
There’s stuff all over the table, my coat, laptop, books, papers, phone, pens, drink, what have you. Maybe I’m in a coffee shop, or the library, or even on a train. And I have to pee.
So I make eye contact with someone the next table over and ask: “Would you watch my stuff?”
The answer is invariably yes, so I trot off to the bathroom, or to buy another drink, or grab a book off the shelf.
I have asked countless people to do this for me, and have never had a negative response. I have often been asked to watch stuff for other people, and have always agreed. But I’ve never had to say anything to an interloper trying to elbow in on ‘unsupervised’ stuff.
I’ve also never had anything go missing in one of these ‘supervised’ absences.
Does this make me lucky? Does this mean that thieves assume most stuff is watched? If you’re watching other people’s stuff, do you actually watch it, or do you just go about your business?
I always wonder what this means about our society that asking a stranger (who very well might be a thief themselves) to watch over our stuff is better than just walking away for 5 min. It makes me feel better to know that I said something, but the reality is, if something went missing, I wouldn’t hold the person ‘watching’ responsible. I’ve left my stuff unsupervised in public, and the only person accountable is me.
Have you ever had someone refuse to watch your stuff? Have you ever had something stolen in your absence, supervised or not? How do you feel asking a stranger to watch your things?