Can I have your zip code, please? No. Standing in line observing other people unquestioningly giving away bits and pieces of themselves along with their money during transactions at coffee houses, big box stores, and DVD rental places, I’ve come to realize that I believe in “decline to state.” “No thanks,” I say easily when asked for my zip code, phone number, or number of teeth when all I’m doing is buying milk, a breakfast sandwich, or some paper towels. Taking this action, surprisingly, tends to get the retail clerk and other customers in line to stop and look me in the face…look me over. They want to see the face of the person saying ‘no.’ Often the clerk repeats the request or explains why it’s harmless. I disagree. The accepted notion that I need to exchange these personal bits of information as part of buying stuff no longer works for me. I get to keep such details to myself. Think about it, if someone followed me around on an erranding-running day, s/he could learn my name, phone number, zip code, etc….just enough details to possibly make mischief with my life. Besides, in stores in which I’m a repeat customer, how many times do they need to know that someone from my zip code is buying her paper towels there? Now, if I could purchase such items using these bits of information INSTEAD of dollars, then we might have something to talk about! I’d consider it for a moment, and then I would decline to state.
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