On Thursday afternoon, I decided to productively idle away my time at Metropolis, one of my favorite coffee houses. I hopped on Red Line and rode for two stops, and got off at Granville.

Seating is usually sparse, as lots of Loyola students frequent the place, getting their study on. I ordered a latte, found a corner table, and set up shop. Laptop, external hard drive, mouse, and book. Outside winter lay bleak and dull. Inside a hotbed of conversation flourished, impassioned voices intermixed and expanded into all corners of the room.

Then, someone stood up in my peripheral vision.

It was some random guy. He turned and asked a girl, “Excuse me, could you keep an eye on my computer for me?” He was in need of a bathroom break.
“Sure,” she replied.

This gets me thinking.

There are about 20 of us all in this place. Out of all of them, this guy picks this particular girl to trust and keep his computer safe. (For maybe five minutes tops, but regardless.) She was sitting kitty-corner to him, reading a book. This guy has no idea who this girl is. Not her name, age, address… credit history, criminal record… if she’s a university student or an illegal immigrant. Or if she’s just been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist as a kleptomaniac . She’s as random as any other person in this coffee house. Why is she any less capable of nabbing his MacBook Air than anyone else?

If he only knew that I passionately covet the fantastically thin, sleek, light-as-a-feather Air, he probably wouldn’t have asked me. The girl he asked, was in fact, yours truly.

So why do people do this – hand out blind trust like Halloween candy? Why would someone trust one complete stranger to protect valuables from other complete strangers?

Personally, I’ve done this a handful of times, but after mulling over the logic of this practice, I’ve given it up. Instead, I trust the mass as a whole. No need to ask any specific person in general. When sitting for a while at a place like a coffee shop, you develop an unspoken bond with the people you sit next to. They know you because you tripped over their chair leg and apologized profusely. You know how they cough after choking on a biscotti. You said “No problem, help yourself!” when another person showed up late, needing the extra chair from your table. The temporary bond created between you and the other coffee lovers is hopefully strong enough that if you step away from your ‘spot’ for a moment, they won’t up and steal your stuff, and if anyone else shows up with that intention, they would at least offer up, “Hey, um, I think that belongs to that girl who’s in the restroom.”