Had Kate and Marton not rented their apartment across the hall, I doubt that Carol and I would ever have fully appreciated the neighborhood of Coolidge Corner. Let alone live here.

But discover this place they did, and we count ourselves as the beneficiaries of a car-less life within walking distance of most of what we need.

Including Christmas presents.

Which brings me to this confessional of bargain hunting gone bad, a Christmas Eve tale that’s painful to tell but that, thanks to the spirit of the season, ended better than it began.

I’m pretty sure the last time I’d shopped at Wild Goose Chase was December 2016, when I bought Carol some funny socks for her birthday and a colorful knitted hat for Christmas. The enterprising clerk invited me to join the store’s mailing list, which I reluctantly agreed to do.

The store, a go-to spot for interesting, high-quality gifts, was restrained in its email marketing. I was glad to get a $10-off coupon at Thanksgiving this year that I stashed away in expectation of a return visit in December. I showed up a week ago Saturday, this time picking out another cool Wild Goose Chase hat for Carol’s birthday and another gift for her stocking that cannot yet be revealed.

I knew my coupon had expired the day before, but I walked into the place figuring the store would be glad for the foot traffic and happy to grant me a day’s grace on my coupon.

Sorry, said the friendly woman who waited on me, but this coupon expired yesterday. There then ensued an exchange that was, on her part, unyielding but conciliatory and, on mine, full-on Scrooge.

After I asked her to remove me from their mailing list, she asked if I’d still like to go ahead with my purchases. Reluctantly yes, I grumped.

Undeterred by my attitude, the store staff proceeded as if they were dealing with a normal human being and offered gift boxes I was glad to get.

Trudging home on a chilly walk down Beacon and Harvard Streets, I passed by several vacant shops apparently driven out of business by the neighborhood’s soaring rents. It occurred to me that grumbling about ten bucks with a locally-owned store trying to stay in business had not been my finest hour.

In retrospect, Dickens’ sketch of old Ebeneezer was beginning to hit way too close to home:

The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.

It got worse. By the time I got home, it had hit me: My first stop on this outing was the post office, where I dropped off several dozen Christmas cards espousing a message that I’d just completely trashed. I didn’t sleep well that night.

The next day, I addressed one of those cards to the folks at Wild Goose Chase along with the following note:

Good morning, Wild Goose Chase.

I’m the guy with the white beard in the red jacket who was so grumpy Saturday about missing the holiday shopping discount by a day. I stopped by right after dropping off a batch of holiday cards at the post office. The card, as you can see, encourages people to do their best to see things from perspectives other than their own. It wasn’t until I got home that it occurred to me to follow my own advice. 

So sorry for showing up as Mr. Crabby Pants in your shop. Here’s hoping all your other holiday shoppers behave better than I did.

And thanks for hanging in there as so many Coolidge Corner shops appear unable to survive what looks like big and widespread increases in rent.

It’s nice to have you in the neighborhood.

A couple of days ago, Kate was out Christmas shopping and, you guessed it, made some purchases at the Goose.

A braver (and certainly more cordial) person than her old man, Kate confessed her relationship to the bad actor from the week before.

It turns out that the woman who dealt with me is the co-owner of the store. She told Kate the encounter had stayed with her throughout the day; I’m guessing not in a good way.

I have some ideas about how I’ve become such an entitled consumer, but that’s the subject of another post. For now, I come away from my Wild Goose Chase experience with a renewed interest in trying to set things right when they go off the rails.

Kate reports that the owner had placed my note and card in a binder so store staff could read to the end of this story.

Before heading home, she texted me a photo of the owner with a colleague and my card.

I messaged back: Please pass along holiday greetings from the former Mr. Crabby Pants.

This article was written by Brookline resident, Bill Mitchell, and first posted in
the blog Across The Hall. Bill would like to add that he plans to shop at Wild Goose
Chase again this year, he’s grateful Wild Goose Chase is in our community, and he’s
expecting no discounts!