Today I received a handwritten note from a local real estate agent informing me that she has ‘a genuine buyer looking for a property in this vicinity’. I was impressed by the time and attention she had given me until I realised that it was a photocopy, made on coloured paper to appear genuine. I don’t like being taken for a ride – even one that lasts only a few seconds – and most definitely will not be trusting her with the sale of my house.

On the weekend I needed to use a service station restroom but didn’t need fuel. As I was deciding what unnecessary item I would buy from the service station store in reciprocation, I encountered a sign sternly informing me that toilets were for customer use only. As I don’t pay for the use of toilets, I felt relieved of the need to reciprocate and left without buying anything at all.

Last week I visited a tea shop. Below every display of teapots and other expensive items were signs informing me that if I broke anything I must pay for it. I had assumed that this was the case before I read the sign – now I felt accused of being both careless and unwilling to take responsibility for my actions. Instead of freely touching and interacting with the beautiful teapots – a commitment/consistency step toward purchase – I stood at the same respectful distance I would give priceless Ming Dynasty china in a museum.

More harm than good.