Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Day

Even before I came in Canada I heard this words through my friend who came here in April. When I landed here, I always hear my flatmates say these words with great anticipation and expectation. Some hoped that it would be their off on that day. I'm talking about boxing day in Canada where people go gaga and googoo!

December 26 was the date - Friday. It happened that the day before Christmas our salaries were released! My friends were excited and into it! One of them planned on getting a laptop - and he did! Others tried to browse the web and searched for possible items that they could get. A few tried to order online. I also tried to check some of the websites of stores near our place to look for bargain items like digicams and mp3 players just to feel the excitement of it all. I found some and if I wanted to get them I must go to that particular outlet early in the morning and line up because the items that I really liked were limited in number. Even our co-workers were discussing what to get on that fateful day for themselves. I was amused to hear them utter the things they wanted. It was like wishing a gift from Santa. The difference is, it wasn't free. One wanted to buy a plasma tv, the other an I-phone, and still some would just go to the malls and see what's on sale or bargain and pick it from there!

I wanted to go but I couldn't because I had work. I was glad I had. Aside from our outlet not being busy on boxing day, I got to keep my money intact for better use. I tried not to look for any stuff when it was time for me to go home so off I went to a dollar variety store. Nope, I didn't buy any stuff there. I sent money back home for my family. I thought it would be wise to send money than to spend it with stuff that I like but didn't need. It always works!

I never saw any line at some of the retail stores I passed. But the following day I saw a picture in one of the dailies about two Canadian teeners who went to the mall and laid flat on the floor due to exhaustion. Geez, I thought they were given upper cuts and furious jabs leading to a knock-out!!!

Now I know why it's called boxing day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

In Praise of KISITO

Christmas is a few days away that's why my friends and I decided to buy the things that we need today. Actually, yesterday 'coz I'm writing this early Monday.

There are 15 of us in the group and since this is our first Christmas in Canada, we thought it would be best to celebrate it altogether. The agreement was for each group of five to prepare a dish and we'll stay in our apartment and do potluck and party and drink all night on the 24th.We agreed to chip in $20 each making a pot of $300 that we could use to buy the stuff we need. We're going to prepare a pasta, chicken barbecue, fruit salad, jell-o, and some native dishes like sisig and kare-kare. Four of us did the grocery grabbing the things that we needed listed on a paper that we prepared.

Upon filling-up the cart, we decided to play a game ala price is right guessing how much our haul would cost while waiting in line. $230 said one. $280 said the other. $260 wagered one of us. I thought it would cost $265. The line was moving ok considering the bulk groceries people bought ahead of us. And then one till was opened to move the line a little bit faster. An Indian couple cut through our line and before we knew it, they were right next to the till with their goodies. One of us said that we should let them go since the spirit of Christmas, which is giving, is very alive in us anyway. Just then, the newly opened till's cashier noticed the action that just happened and she went to the couple and politely asked them to to fall and wait in line. The couple hesitantly did.

When it was our turn, we tried to figure which items we're gonna have to charge first because our budget might not cover everything that we took. Since there were four of us, we were getting our wallets ready should the total exceeds our budget of $300.

Kisito was the name of the cashier where we happened to line up. He was about 5'10" in height and has a lanky built. I will play a guessing game here. I think he is of African origin based on his tone of voice. When our total came at $274.80, I counted our money since I was tasked to keep them. I counted the bills slowly, piece by piece. When he noticed what I was doing, he immediately told us to grab a $30 discount coupon. I told my friends to do so and one of my friends hurriedly went at the customer service area. I thought Kisito noticed that we were taking too long in line, waiting for the discount coupon, so he decided to ring the $30 discount since the coupon is coming anyway.

This is Christmas in action! I say this not because it's a favor on our part but because of Kisito's act. He let us feel it IS Christmas! As a Catholic, my faith taught me that because of God's love for us, he gave his son, Jesus. I always thought that God's love for humankind is so enormous that he sent Jesus on Earth to do marvels for us. Kisisto included! All praise is due to Kisito who works for SuperStore located at 137 avenue in Edmonton, Alberta. His quick thinking, always customer-first attitude was in full display. I hope there would be more KISITO working for SuperStore because he understands his job well and is sensitive enough to feel for his clients/customers. Next time I go at SuperStore, I will surely line up where he is at. Because with him I feel the warmth and meaning of Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Waiting in Line

"Your service is veeerrryyy slow! Four people just walked out because of your slow speed!" Thus says the lady upon reaching the till. The cashier manning the front counter seemed at a lost because all the while he thought he was doing his best to move the line fast. He was wrong based on the lady's feedback. Another staff who heard the lady's disappointment walked to her and apologized. He said they will do something about it. He then went to the manager and relayed the customer's feedback.

Time is of utmost importance to most people I know. If there's one thing we all have in common, it's time. Some people have the time to wait, most people don't. I don't know if there's wisdom in waiting too long just to get a cup of coffee or a breakfast sandwich. I am a customer myself and I hate it when I wait in line for too long for stupid reasons. Top of them all is cutting cost on manpower. Patience is surely not a virtue when there are 10 or 15 people in line and you find one cashier doing all the work. From getting your orders to repeating them to assembling and presenting them to you and ends with a wish for you to have a great day when the start ain't that great after all. You'll be lucky if that person assigned to man the counter is highly skilled in his or her job. But still, it doesn't remove the fact that a great disservice is being done to customers. This is true in supermarkets as well. You see the queue reaching the frozen or meat section and the supervisor or manager doesn't even care to break the line by opening a cash register or two because they are cutting cost on their manpower.

Are we left with no choice? Can we stop going to these outlets whose blatant disrespect for our time is being pushed to the limit? I just did that in some of the outlets I've been through. The fact is there are plenty of choices, there are so many options, so many stores, eateries, bars, cafes, supermarkets, retail stores, etc., which respect their customers' time. I will be blogging about them every now and then to help you make an informed decision where to go.

Oh, by the way, have you asked that person who is solely manning the counter what s/he feels when s/he is at work? Management should listen. So many discontentment arise because of false savings. Add to the fact that employee morale is below sea level. If you happen to go to one of the lousiest service-oriented stores of any kind, try this experiment. You'll realize that you, who's waiting in line, and the person handling the line have the same feeling. Most often than not, both of you are disgusted over dis-service!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Thanks for your warm reception! I could sense the sincerity of your act as you extended your hand and pressed mine and clasped it even tighter with your other hand. It was like letting me in and giving me a warm shelter in this cold winter month. I felt assured with your gesture, knowing fully well that you will always be there for me.

To be welcomed is to acknowledge the presence of the Other. By doing so, the first step in building a solid relationship with the Other is cemented. It is a gesture of respect of the Other's being. Yet, however basic this simple gesture is, sometimes or most of the time, depending on where you stand and where you are, it is being neglected.

To skip this is a major blunder in any aspect of human interaction. Whether at work, at play or at pray. I know a company where people handling is on a decline. This company never notices the coming and going of its people. How many came, how many were gone, they have lost count. It's a pity sight to see them wondering and wandering about something that is right in their nose. They are overwhelmed by the unimportant daily rigors of fast-paced living because of a superficial competition. It's disappointing to focus on something so shallow because you don't get anything out of it except for the false praises that you wanted for your ego.

If you want your ego, your self-worth, your self-esteem to flourish, welcome the Other. By doing so you will have an alter-ego. Extend your hand and let go because the one you are reaching to is YOU!

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