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Sometimes it's not all about the money

It's a hot day.

And I was looking for a tailor who can attach an additional button on one of my relatively-more-expensive Polo shirts. I found one and so I went in to ask if he could do it. "The tailor is not in today, he can only do it on Monday and it needs to be sent to a factory." I asked him, "How much would it cost?" and he said HKD 60. He also said that if I wanted, I could leave the shirt with him and he would get it sorted out on Monday. I wasn't sure so I decided to leave and perhaps come back on Monday instead. After a few ten meters out from the shop, I decided to go back and leave the shirt with him and give him the business. Problem is: I didn't have any cash on me.

"Can I leave the shirt with you and pay you when I come collect it?". After all, I'm not going to just leave the shirt and not come back for it. But he said bluntly brushing me off, "Sorry can't do. you can go and some other place". There was no offer to direct me to the nearest ATM or to facilitate an online fund transfer.

And so I left, walking for another five minutes before trying my luck at another random tailor.

The response was somewhat the same: Again, they needed to send the shirt to the factory to get it done and the factory wasn't open over the weekend. I told him I didn't need the 'embroidery' to be complex, just a simple stitch-on-and-cut-out. He was apprehensive at first. "It might damage your shirt..." I re-assured him and he contemplated a while and said,

"Give me five minutes, let me see if I can do this, please take a seat" and he stepped out and possibly went upstairs, coming back about ten minutes later with my shirt.

"Can I give you something for this?" I asked him. "No no it's ok" So I said, "Why don't you give me one of your cards, I'll come back again."

I thanked him and gratefully left.

I'm not sure if I will be going back there to make a tailored shirt since I have so many of them. But I'm certainly not going back to the first tailor.


Counter-party risks exist in every transaction. But when the risks have been evaluated, mitigated and a relatively valuable collateral has been offered, it is sometimes hard to understand why people refuse to exercise some discretion and flexibility to bend the rules.

You might have 'de-risked' yourself from losing a few bucks, but have lost all future potential benefits that may have come forth from this simple action.



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