A few bad actors make things far more difficult for the much larger group of good people. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing who's good and who's bad, so society is stuck in a system where everyone has to undergo scrutiny. This fact probably isn't a surprise to you, but you may be surprised at just how wasteful it is of your time. You'd usually think of a dishonest person as someone who stole goods, services, or money. The reality is that perhaps the biggest casualty is your time.
Certainly people have to defend themselves against these bad actors, but it's a shame that everyone has to suffer the consequences. Admittedly, I don't have alternatives and solutions to all these problems. What I can do is warn you where they are, and suggest ways to minimize the time you lose as a result. Invest time in advance to make the process smoother and faster later. Control what you can now, because things will always come up.
Here are examples of some of these time sucks, and ideas for what you can do to minimize their impact on your productivity:
1. Product Stickers
There are several items on this list that involve shopping at stores. It's one of the places where the impact of these bad actors is most obvious. People try to get one over on the store by buying a bunch of a certain product, but underestimating how many they have. So when they go to the hardware store and buy a bunch of, say, hinges, they tell the cashier that they have 20 when they really have 24. It's a tiny boon for the dishonest shopper, but it adds up for the store. As a result, many stores have stopped the time-saving practice of scanning one of the items, and then manually entering the total number the customer is buying. Instead, they've put stickers on every little piece of product and force cashiers to scan them individually to make sure each one is counted. I find this infuriating. Stores have also started using adhesive that's stronger than ever, to prevent people from switching price tags. This means it's extra difficult to get those unsightly stickers off once you get home. Plus, if the product is mechanically sensitive - like a hinge - then if you don't get that adhesive off fully, the product won't work properly. Like I said, infuriating!
If you know you're buying a bunch of a product, it may be worth buying it online. You can easily buy in bulk, and things are less likely to have all those stickers. But stay tuned to this list for why online shopping can be a time suck, too.
National security is in everyone's interest, including the interest of business. But there's also a line where the marginal returns on certain security measures start to fall considerably. Each liquid can only be 3oz, but you can take a bunch of them. People are forced to take off belts and shoes, which causes delays getting into and out of the security line. I went through a security line the other day where I even had to take off my watch!
One of the best travel investments you can make is to get Global Entry. It speeds your return into the country when you travel abroad, and it comes with TSA PreCheck - no more removing your shoes, liquids, or computers. If that's not an option, try to travel at off times when security lines are shorter.
3. Store Security
Unfortunately, stores are forced to spend tons of resources on inventory control and loss prevention. There's a famous video supply store in Manhattan where every customer has to check their bags before entering the store. If you forget your phone or a notebook where you were comparing products, you have to go back and get it. And when you're finally done traversing the whole huge store, you need to wait in another line to get your bag. At clothing stores, they put security tags on practically everything, sometimes in multiple places. It takes time for the cashiers to find and remove them all, which slows down the line for everyone. Sometimes they miss one, and an alarm goes off when you try to exit. It's embarrassing, and because it happens fairly regularly, it desensitizes store employees from the alarm - which no doubt leads to more loss! Worst of all is when you get home and discover a tag the clerk missed. The location often makes the item unwearable, so you have to find your receipt and go all the way back to the store to get it removed.
Buy what you can online, and if you must buy in a store, do a thorough check of your items while you're waiting in line so you can make sure the cashier gets every single tag.
4. Online Purchases
I've recommended buying online to help prevent excess stickers, annoying security tags, and long lines. But buying online isn't all rainbows, either. It seems to me it's taking longer than ever to complete the online purchasing process. There's so much credit card fraud that online retailers are requiring more proof of identification, often making you enter the same information more than once. Sites have also started making ridiculous password requirements, like 12 letters, 3 non-sequential numbers, multiple special characters, and no word obviously connected to the store name or username. It's definitely true that these requirements are best practices for passwords, but boy does it make everything bulky.
Make sure you keep your passwords straight - and secure - and if a store offers you the chance to enhance security (and steps!) by remembering your IP address, consider taking them up on it.
5. Backpack Bans
Backpack bans at stadiums are some of my absolute favorite nonsense security measures. Yes, some people try to sneak a bunch of food and drinks or alcohol into stadiums, and there's always a fear of security with large crowds. But perhaps it's also just a cold night and you need an efficient way to carry some extra jackets. Or maybe it's a long journey from your home to the stadium, so you needed to bring extra supplies. But backpack-specific bans are ludicrous. You can often bring bags that are considerably larger than a backpack, as long as it has a single strap. But add another strap, and it's verboten!
Read up on the stadium's policy before you leave your house, and make sure you have big pockets!
6. Getting a Job
Getting a job is hard enough these days. And it's only harder as a result of the dishonest records some people try to pass as true. Employers have to watch out for fake resumes, doctored academic records, and people who lie about their criminal pasts. As a result, even honest applicants have to fill out the unending paperwork of background checks, secure certified copies of obscure documents, and undergo drug tests that can be set off by any number of false positives.
Do as much research on companies as you can before you get to this stage, to make sure they're worth the effort.