Service of I Should Have Walked Out

April 13th, 2015

Categories: Insecurity, Restaurant, Retail

Kick mysek

I admired this story that I’ve mentioned before and could kick myself every time I don’t do the same—which is often. Someone recommended a NYC steakhouse to my aunt and uncle so one evening during a trip to the city they started to give it a try. When my aunt opened the menu she was horrified by the prices, which she could have easily paid, and said to my uncle that she’d like to leave and they did.

Mass cardI did not do the same when I went to a church near my office to buy a dedicated mass card. I wanted the pastor to say a mass for a friend who had just died at the first opportunity. The attendant said that there were no free masses until September and she recommended that I opt for the general mass card which means that prayers are said but for a group of people–none are called out. Six months away to dedicate a mass to someone? Ridiculous.

But I’d already given her cash, the name of the deceased and selected the card and felt uncomfortable saying, “Please give me back my money.” So I ended up sending his widow what I didn’t want.

Walking by another church on my way to work to gauge the mass card situation the sign on the office says it’s open from 10 to 4. The neighborhood is largely residential so I guess they don’t expect “business” from anyone who works.

If I walk out of a commercial operation, say a boutique, having bought nothing I’m OK, if a little uncomfortable, unless I know the shop owner. Then it’s harder not to buy a little something. What about you?

brouse in a store

Tags: , ,

14 Responses to “Service of I Should Have Walked Out”

  1. ASK Said:

    Kudos to your aunt and uncle, it was probably a place that caters to the business lunch and dinner crowd; those places seem to feel they can charge anything and they do! Fortunately, I know not a soul who is in the retail business…

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Bet you’re right. When I heard the story I decided not to give the place a try. In my first PR job my boss made a reservation at just such a place when the client–from a giant corporation–was coming to town. He warned her that he didn’t want to go to a pricey place and she claimed that the [famous] place she chose had a reasonable lunch special menu. The day we were there they did not have it and I sensed he was miffed. When he came to town another time and had lunch with me I chose a great deli and he was in heaven. He was living in the Midwest but had been brought up in NYC. The first class deli was expensive as deli’s go but nothing like the other clip joint.

  3. Hank Goldman Said:

    What a great question.

    My advice; never go shopping alone. The other person you are with, will usually tell you, you don’t have to buy anything. “Browsing, just looking, thanks but I’ll keep looking,” are all good things to say to the owner, or volunteers, when that really is all you are doing. No obligations. No guilt.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Browsing is a great protective word. As my husband hates to shop, if in a men’s store I can say I am doing reconaissance and that is true. Otherwise, guilt is how I often feel.

    I felt caught at the church….I wasn’t browsing, I’d come in for something specific. Because I knew the drill I got ahead of myself. What I learned for next time is to ask if there are any masses free in the next month or so. If the answer is “in six months,” I then can smile, say it doesn’t work for me and leave.

  5. Mervyn Kaufman Said:

    I always think it’s easiest to be a casual shopper in a department
    store—so many other people are wandering about, and the sales help are usually in demand. In a specialty shop, I have to be a serious shopper—I don’t always make a purchase, but I don’t feel I can just poke around when sales folk are watching me. When I visit the MOMA store, even just to look around, I always find something I’ll want to buy. Their merchandising has such strong visual and tactile appeal.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I have no qualms walking through a large store and leaving with nothing. I also do it in grocery stores all the time when I either don’t see the brand or item I’m looking for or decide I won’t pay $6.49 for a pint of ice cream when the same brand, a few blocks away, sells for $5.25–and I shouldn’t eat the stuff it anyway. Last week my neighborhood had a run on hearts of lettuce and I was in the mood to make a salad with this crunchy variety. Only one store had it for $6–when it usually costs no more than $3. I left empty handed.

    Kudos to MoMA’s store…It has tempting gifts for people of all ages. And I love sending museum store note cards as I always find images that appeal.

  7. Nancy Farrell Said:

    My go-to phrase for the church would have been that I will be back another time. Or I would have explained that I needed a mass within a month so I’d have to go elsewhere but that I’d be happy to make a small donation instead. I think it’s possible to get what you need without any hard feelings. My husband and I walked out of a favorite restaurant Friday night because they had an unexpected large crowd. It was loud and there were no free tables. We told one of the servers we’d come back when they were less busy and they were happy to see us last night and we were happy to be able to hear each other talk. We were also able to find out from the staff what had caused the crowd so we now know it was a one-time event and that we can still go there on Friday nights.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good idea: I didn’t think of saying “Keep $5 but might I please have my $15 back?”

    Glad you have a favorite watering hole you can return to on a Friday night. I try to do things at odd hours to avoid subway crowds and lines. Meeting folks for lunch early or late works–so many places are lovely until they are full and then you can’t hear yourself think. Plus with deadlines and other life stresses, I find consistent loud noise to be unsettling and when I eat, which is a pleasure, I also like to feel relaxed.

  9. J. McCarthy Said:

    At this, the tail end of tax season, my printer/copier died. Since it was only two years old and hardly used, I assumed it was out of ink and went to the only office store within twenty blocks of where I work (The chain stores have driven all the Mom and Pop shops out of business, but that is another story.), and bought a bunch of ink refills.

    When it still didn’t work, our techie took a look at it and told me that a small plastic part (formerly fabricated out of high quality metal, but that also is another story.), was broken and that it would take weeks to get a replacement delivered through eBay. He suggested it would save money and hassle were I to buy a new printer or accept as a gift a very old, well made one he had which worked beautifully.

    As they say, “You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” However, I needed backup ink. As I had to return the ink I had bought anyway, I went back to the office store where I’d just been. I got my refund without difficulty, but I could find nobody who would help me buy new ink. Ten years ago, I might have impatiently waited; now, I just walked out.

    I do that more and more these days and feel no embarrassment at all at letting my feet speak for me.

  10. Martha Takayama Said:

    I have to admit that I would have behaved exactly as you did in the purchase of the Mass card. No matter how much I felt that it was clearly not what I wanted to commemorate my friend or how unsuitable the transaction was, I would have felt unable to request my money back. I try not to waste sales people’s time if I have no intention of purchasing, however, I do not get sentimental about leaving without purchasing what I don’t want (or need) in a large chain, or in a situation of perfunctory to rude service.

    I feel less pressured than I used to about not purchasing something that I don’t want or need, if I know the proprietor or staff, but think it is my defect! I try to be as gracious as possible.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    J McCarthy,

    What wonderful tech support you have! Unheard of. His service is in stark contrast to that of the place at which you tried to buy cartridges. Maybe those you can buy online–but don’t get the reconstructed too-cheap-to-be-believed kind. A colleague tried and tossed out the lot….it didn’t work.

    And good for you for walking out–but of course, you don’t have the cartridges you need. It never ends.

  12. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s a matter of setting one’s priorities, and when it comes to parting with money, the spender, in this case “I” come first. It’s wise to hand over funds only after an agreement is reached.

    As for churches, they are not always to be trusted. The first and last time I paid for and attended a mass said in someone’s name, the entire service went by with no reference to the deceased. I now, for the most part, send memorial and/or celebration donations to respected charities and/or organizations where there is a greater chance to do good.

    As for the cheating church, if there is a god in charge, the repercussions stand to be much greater than any a person can create.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I know a small shop owner who says that it drives her nuts when someone spends time at her store, looks around and “doesn’t even buy a card.” Her cards are pricey…nevertheless. This colors my reluctance to leave without buying anything even if the cards at her shop cost four times more than I usually pay.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It might be that some dufus made a big mistake and the word never got to the priest. I was once on a volunteer committee for an antiques show in Brooklyn Heights and at the last minute, the head of the program committee had to make some editorial changes and my name was deleted from the list in the program. I didn’t care. She had a fit. These things happen and they are not malicious…just mistakes.

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics