Yesterday the sushi chef at Kroger asked if I wanted to try a sample, and I said yes. I didn't think of the consequences. I didn't think he'd describe the roll before handing it to me (and effectively prove to me it wasn't real sushi because it contained only imitation crab). He then encouraged me to look at the other sushi offerings - some of which were real sushi since they contained tuna and salmon and not this imitation crap.
But I hadn't come to Kroger for sushi. In fact I had sushi for lunch, and do you see these prices? $9 to take home sushi and eat it on my couch? Why don't I just show up to a restaurant and order it? Am I paying for the convenience to sit close to my remote?
But I had accepted his sushi and gum-smackingly declared it delicious and now felt a conscious pressure to pretend I was actually considering buying sushi. I proceeded to stand over the sushi and eye all the options, audibly murmuring, "Oh, California rolls!" and "Oh, brown rice!" The sushi chef smiled and nodded.
Me: "Oh, dynamite tuna!"
Meanwhile, I wondered how long I needed to stand here and feign interest. Was 10 seconds long enough? Should I pick up the salmon and avocado rolls? Was that being a tease? Okay, I think it's been 20 seconds. Do I look at him and say, "I'm going to get the rest of my groceries, then come back"? And then walk away with no intention of returning? Would that be lying?
I opened my mouth to utter my lie, but a new customer had materialized and distracted him. I slipped away, no salmon and avocado rolls in my basket.
I began to ponder, is it acceptable to take free samples and be transparent that you have no interest in ever purchasing the product? I've always fallen into the guilt trap that if I take a sample, I have to act like I'm seriously considering buying. Last weekend I was at a greenhouse selling Brunswick stew (I know, very weird), and after having a bite that was more like half a bite (stingy b*stards), I began asking what ingredients went into the stew.
More like, "Is that chicken?" (Does beef even go into Brunswick stew?) And, "Oh, is that a carrot? How much is a quart? How big is a quart even?"
("Enough for about four meals." "Well, you haven't seen the meals I eat.")
Meanwhile, I had no intention of buying Brunswick stew at a greenhouse. I hadn't even come here for a plant. I just was hangry and saw free samples.
Am I a moody? (Yes.) Is it acceptable to be a mooch? (I don't know.)
Continuing through Kroger, I found myself faced with an elderly woman with free samples of cake. Oh my God!
Now I had even less likelihood of buying cake than I did buying sushi, but boy, did I want a cake sample. After all, calories don't count in samples. (That's my theory with cookies, too; I always eat the broken ones and then they don't count.)
The grandmother saw me looking. She smiled. I smiled. I pretended to look at the olives nearby while planning my line of attack.
Granny: "Would you like some cake?"
I dug the plastic spoon into the bite-sized cup of chocolate birthday cake (she called it birthday cake; I'm not sure whose birthday it was other than mine next week). I prepared to pretend I might buy a cake ("for my birthday"), but saw no actual cakes out and about to consider. Well, I guess there were cakes all around her in the bakery section, but I wasn't about to tour the cake table.
Decisively, I said thank you and walked away with my free sample of cake, guilt free on all fronts.