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Robinson’s Mall to Open in Calapan

First of all, this is not a paid advertisement. Although, if anyone from the company wishes to, who am I to say no? [Imagine Smiley Here!]

Now, why do I even know this?

I was at the Robinson’s Place Supermarket at about ten this morning to get a few things. There were not very many people doing their groceries; so I was ready to line-up at the cashier’s counter in no time at all.

There were just three counters open and I chose the one in the middle. Walâ lang. There were only two customers ahead of me. Behind the cashier’s counter, though, there stood this young woman wearing a white t-shirt with a crudely designed computer-generated ID dangling from her chest.

The regular cashier, recognizable in her apple green uniform, stood behind the young lady in white looking every bit the supervisor. Apart from the young woman who was apparently learning the ropes from the regular cashier, there were three gentlemen further down the counter busily stuffing purchases into plastic bags.

I immediately knew these were trainees. I mean, on ordinary days, you can consider yourself fortunate if there is a bagger at the end of the counter. Today, there were three. The erroneous conclusion I arrived at was that the supermarket management had belatedly decided to improve the customer service and hired more baggers. But more on this later…

Like I said, there were just two customers ahead of me in the queue. Other days, I would have scowled and thought the cashier was really being laboured. But, heck, it was early morning; I was not in a rush; and I chose to be fascinated rather than irritated by the trainee cashier’s clumsiness.

Suddenly, behind me appeared this big burly young man who, seeing that I was transferring my groceries from the red plastic basket onto the conveyor belt, offered to hold the basket for me.  It was another trainee.

“Ako na pô Sir!” he politely offered. That was nice of him. However, since I had the basket sitting on the edge of the conveyor belt, anyway, I told him, “Okay lang ako.”

Does anyone know of a customer relations award somewhere? I would like to nominate the young man. Rather than move on to other customers after what I thought – and intended – was a dismissal, instead he held on to the bag with both hands and told me, “Hahawakan ko na pô!”

Aba ngâ naman. I do not remember anyone ever being this helpful at the same supermarket before – and I am a regular.

“Trainee ka?” I asked. “Opô Sir!” I do not really know why because I am seldom the chatty type; but I asked what I later realized was a stupid enough question, “May allowance na kayo?” And not that it was ever my business… For my trouble, the lad muttered something under his breath that I could not even understand. So, I nodded my head and turned my attention to the cashier.

When it was my turn, the young trainee cashier paused for a moment, took a deep breath, put on a bright face and flashed a Colgate white smile before happily saying, “Good morning, Sir!”

And my reply was just as happy, “And good morning to you!” Being me – and believe me, I tried hard not to – I was wondering if she would still be as pleasant six months into the job.

Even the regular cashier, perhaps more relaxed because she was not really the one doing the work, was in a sociable mood. “Mga trainee kayo?” I asked the young lady and the three gentlemen.

“Opô!” was the reply in chorus. Synchronization = 8.5.

But it was the regular cashier who picked up the conversation, “Magbubukas pô kasi Sir ng mall sa Calapan.” Oh really? The first and only time I visited Calapan was in 1988 for the STRAA. Back then, it was this sleepy little place where I was not even sure I could buy Coke.

In fairness, Lipa was not much larger.

“Mga taga-Calapan kayo?” I asked my second stupid question of the morning. Alangan.

“Opô!” they all replied in chorus again. Synchronization = 9.0.

“Kelan magbubukas?”

“Sa eight pô,” was the regular cashier’s reply. You have to understand, these days I do not really think it is even important to know the date. So I just replied stupidly, “Ahh…”

Of course, I later realized that I forgot to ask which month. If it is this month, then the eighth is already the day after tomorrow. A little late for the visitors to still be undergoing training, would you not say so? But maybe it is for next month…

Before long, I paid the trainee cashier and turned my attention to the three gentlemen baggers. “Seven bags!” one of the lads proudly told me.


And only two hands…

Of course, you can always argue that I have ten fingers. Exactly. There were still three fingers free after I hooked the bags with seven.

“Good luck sa inyo!” I wished everyone before leaving.

“Salamat pô!” Everyone replied happily. Synchronization = 9.5. I wish there are trainees at Robinson’s Supermarket everyday!

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