Bagged With Compassion
Carlos Locsin, H4B
Wednesday, 09-Mar-2005 6:43 PM
Way before the immersion, I was already very excited for it. I was already trying to picture myself bagging groceries at SM. I couldn't wait for the immersion to come. The orientation, apart from adding to the excitement, tantalized me because I would still have to wait for two weeks before the immersion. I had a gut feel that the immersion was going to be one of the most memorable activities of my high school life. My enthusiasm, passion and excitement was not limited to the bagging itself, it extended to the interaction with the co-employees that I was looking forward to.
Last December 1, 2004 and January 6-8, 2005, I was exposed to a lot of new realities of our country, of the plight of our brothers and sisters who have to resort to be underemployed and go into blue collared jobs in order to survive. I did not merely see these realities, as I was able to feel with these people through my four-day experience as an SM Bagger during our immersion.
The immersion was one experience I will never forget. I can clearly remember getting used to bagging; making sure that one full cart of groceries is bagged within three minutes, just right after a customer pays for them. I remember the technicalities an SM bagger has to go through: wearing pants without pockets, a white shirt with a blue apron; and experiencing a complete frisk where one has to take out his shoes and untucking his shirt just before he times out right after leaving the selling area. But two aspects of the immersion that will stick to my heart are the new SM employee friends I made and the stories they had to share with me.
During my first day, I was assigned to a lane where I met a cashier whose contract was about to end and she had to look for a new job soon. After roughly two hours of getting a bagging foretaste, I was given a break and made my way to the employees' cafeteria. As I ate the food I enjoyed the company of Ate Gina, Kuya Emerson and some other employees, the new friends I made. They were not baggers or cashiers, but employees assigned to the selling area of the grocery who were in charge of the stocks. Ate Gina was sharing that this job is her fourth. She had previously worked for department stores and clothes shops. She was already sharing with me the hardships they have to go through in finding a job when they end their contract. She also added that she was already a regular employee at one shop but stopped because she did not enjoy her work there. Now, as a supermarket employee, apart from the job she has, she enjoys the company of her co-employees. I really enjoyed that lunch. Through that short time, I already felt that my immersion experience was going to be a memorable one.
After one day of bagging, I felt sad because the other three days of our immersion were postponed due to the typhoon. We were rescheduled one month after and it was worth the wait.
For our second day, I met Ate Lorna, a cashier. During the time I was assigned to her lane, I was able to talk to her during a few moments when there were no customers. I discovered that she finished Education for college and could be a teacher. She was telling me of the different difficult experiences she has had as a cashier. Once in a while when she would be assigned to the Express Lane, she would encounter customers who would buy Php 19 worth of groceries but use a 1000 peso bill to pay; she says of how difficult it is in that situation to be able to provide change for the customer. Aside from that, she would encounter the usual irate customers who sometimes shout too much.
I met another cashier named Ate Elsie during our third day. Like Ate Lorna, she also finished college, her course was Food Tech. Due to the unavailability of job opportunities, and she had no choice but to become a cashier first to earn a living. She says: “ Tama ba naman yon, Food tech graduate pero cashier .” Her contract has ended by now and I am hoping that she can truly find a job that will be able to maximize what she studied for.
During our last day, I was bagging at the Express lane Ate Elsie was assigned to. After an hour into the day, another cashier comes and talks to Ate Elsie. Apparently she had some problems because after awhile, she would leave, talk to a manager then come back. And then, the third time she returned, I started to comprehend the situation. It seemed like she got into trouble and was given the option of resigning so that her record will not be stained. After a while, tears started to flow from her eyes. At that point, I did not know what to do because a part of me wanted to try to see how I could help yet a part of me said that it may be rude and they would get the impression that I was eavesdropping and minding their business. So I ended up keeping quiet and going on with bagging. After a while, I had to move to a regular lane as the customers were starting to pick up. Through this, I saw the reality that ordinary workers have to face, the struggles that they have to deal with and the obstacles they have to overcome. It hit me and reminded me how lucky I have been all these years and somewhat posed a challenge; to be able to see how I can do my share in helping improve their situation in the future.
The company of the co-employees and the new friendships I have made are some of the things that I will never forget. From the cashiers I bagged for, the other baggers I worked with and other employees I met at the cafeteria truly enriched and made this experience an unforgettable one.
The SM immersion as a whole was four wonderful days of being in solidarity with the poor, bagging groceries at the Supermarket. It has reminded and made me see the true meaning that people are inherently and dignified as human beings, we should appreciate every little act they do for us, no matter how simple. In being thankful to others, we are ultimately being thankful to God.
Any act of love done by human hands, no matter how simple, is valuable and sacred because it is done by human hands; human hands which are from people and people who are created by God. The immersion is an eye-opening activity to the lesson I learned from Ms. Caridad, and I quote: “It is people who give value to work not the work that gives value to people. “ We sometimes do not see it, but every simple act of love we do can contribute to the fulfillment of God's plan. Every little thing we do happens for a reason and every little thing we do must lead to the good.
Through this memorable experience, I have also been made fully alive of the plight of the SM Supermarket employees. Never did I expect that as I would bag groceries my heart would be bagged with a passion for justice to acquire the necessary skills for development to become a man for others. I do not want to put this experience to waste. Now, I am challenged to do something in the spirit of MAGIS by taking ACTION to help improve the situation of the country in the future. It is my hope and prayer that one day I will have the opportunity to take action so that others may have the opportunity to shine in their own ways. I am looking forward to that day where I will see Ate Lorna inside a classroom touching the lives of many students and Ate Elsie making a mark in the food industry, truly maximizing their God-given talents.
I now have a heart bagged with compassion through the many realizations and lessons I have learned. It the future, it will be time to put all these valuable lessons into action ad majorem dei gloriam so that everyone may truly have an opportunity and share in the blessings and graces of God.
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