I'll be at home if you need me

As we were reminded time and time again, merchants fretted about every sale in their stores over the year-end holidays. Tom Algie, however, wasn't one of them. Indeed, he awoke on Dec. 26 thinking how nice it would be for a change to have two days off in a row to spend with his family. So as other business people hurried back to their cash registers to ring up after-Christmas bargains, the proprietor of Practically Everything, a hardware store in Settle, England, ambled up to the front door, unlocked it, and then returned home, leaving a note inviting customers to serve themselves because he and his staff wouldn't be around. And please do so on the honor system, the note added. Well, he explained later, people in town just might need "the sorts of things I sell," such as batteries, say, or aluminum stepladders. It turns out he was right. And when he returned to close the place that evening the box he'd put on the counter held $277.28, plus some handwritten notes thanking him for being so trusting. One read: "This has made my day." If you're wondering, not a single item had been taken that wasn't paid for. None had been damaged, either. The day's take, Algie said, was "pretty good" for the day after Christmas. And as for that trust, he told reporters: "I didn't think twice.... Settle is a lovely, quiet rural town, and there's never any trouble here. I put my faith in my customers, and I wasn't disappointed." But would he do it again? Maybe, he said, although the store's next-door neighbor probably wouldn't follow his lead. It's a bank.

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