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Reputation, more oppressive than gold

There's a saying in Ireland that's supposedly one of those old bits of folk wisdom — it's reproduced on sugar sachets and little match-boxes:

"Reputation is more valuable than gold."

A commendable sentiment, maybe, superficially. But I think that sometimes people really believe it in a way that is oppressive.

Once I asked a friend of mine why he wouldn't complain about some faulty product he'd gotten from a local business. He said he wouldn't want to bring shame on his family.

I think it's fear of reputation.

I once complained at a supermarket on behalf of the employees because the alarm at the no-exit turnstyle on the front entry was hooting every three or four minutes. It was useless and intolerable. The elderly lady behind me in queue told me that she would never have thought of saying anything.

I get the feeling that this hesitance to make a formal complaint is caused by fear of reputation.