Bhenki’s Day Out
[updated november 3, 2008]
For most other people, a day out is not really remarkable. But I tell you, a Bhenki’s day out IS special for it happens so very rarely. Here’s what I usually do everyday.
* I spend around
12 24 hours pounding on my keyboard; I worked for exactly 43 hours straight the other day.
I spend around 4 reading. This is obviously gone if I spend more than 24 hours working.
The rest of the time, I split between sleeping and doing a fair imitation of a couch potato about to sprout roots. gone, too…. 😦
Yeah, I go out about once or twice a month to shop for some toiletries or to get a Dr. Macapagal checkup – that’s it. Rarely do I go out without some important purpose.
Yesterday was different. I went out – not to get a checkup or to buy Whisper or Secret. I wanted to buy some (drum-roll) lip gloss.
Yup, that’s rare. That’s like once-in-a-lifetime kind or rare for a girl who doesn’t normally wear lip color anyway. But what the hell; I’d really like to have one of those lip gloss palettes so I thought I’d get one. So I went out, and Bhenki’s day out began.
I and Jabu, who hated shopping for women’s things but had “graciously” consented to accompany me, had to decide how we shall get to the mall. Jabu doesn’t like to drive because of rising gas prices, parking problems, potential car problems which he may not know how to solve, etc. So public transport it had to be. We decided to take a “Padyak” to the mall.
A “Padyak” – for those of you who are unacquainted with the mysteries of Philippines’ local transport – is really a tricycle without a motor; motive power is supplied by the driver who uses his feet to drive the pedals that turn the wheels. In other words, the driver’s “padyak” (feet movement) moves the bicycle and the attached sidecar.
The “Padyak” is small and very slow, but it has two virtues. First, it doesn’t need gas, so it’s environment-friendly. Second, it is silent. Not for the Padyak is the wheezing motor, although wheezing driver is pretty normal.
So Jabu and I went to the Padyak line-up to choose our Padyak. Moments after we have reached the line, we noticed that no Padyak driver was meeting our eyes and offering his services. It was extraordinary. Padyak drivers generally sell their services like a craftsman on the sidewalk sells his wares – loudly and persistently. They shout at you, even when you are right in front of them; they follow you around until they get your attention. What they do not do is ignore potential customers.
But that’s what they just did. Finally, one of the Padyak drivers pointed to one of his colleagues, offering that driver’s services. The two of them kept poking one another; one in affirmation and the other in denial.
We finally figured out what was wrong. Jabu is rather, er, heavy so no Padyak driver wanted to drive us to the mall. The driver, who spoke up, was apparently playing a trick on his colleague – putting him on the spot, so to speak. In the end, he had no choice, and Jabu and I got on the Padyak. After much driver wheezing, we finally reached the mall. To reward his hard work, (oh, how hard he had to work), we paid the driver double the going rate. 🙂
The Penshoppe Snob:
When we got to the mall, we made a beeline for Penshoppe where the lip gloss palette I wanted was being sold. I immediately went to the cosmetics counter. Jabu did what a male in a clothing and cosmetics shop usually does – try to look invisible. He blended, quite successfully, with a mannequin in a plaid shirt.
There were two variants of the lip gloss palette. Since I was having trouble choosing, Jabu told me I should get both. Typical Jabu. He told me he just wanted to encourage me to splurge since I rarely bought something nice for myself, but to tell you the truth, Jabu just wanted out of the shop as quickly as possible.
So carrying my two boxes of lip gloss, I went to the counter to pay for my purchases. The only other two customers were there, too. While waiting for the cashier to ring up their purchases, they discussed whether they should get one of the blusher and eye shadow sets on sale. One of them remarked: “Oh, let’s not get that. That’s cheap, anyway.”
I know she did not mean “cheap” as in “affordable cheap.” She was saying the products on sale were cheap as in “tasteless cheap.”
Wow, the lady has principles – or is “airs” more apt? What was she doing in that particular shop, then? Why was she buying those icky accessories? And, lady, if I were you, I’d not say things like that in front of the cashier who was selling the “cheap” merchandise and a customer (me) who was buying some of the “cheap” merchandise; I didn’t buy the blusher and eye shadow set but, hey, that and my lip gloss belonged to the same product-line up. Heck, they even belonged to the same counter! In result, the cashier barely cracked a smile when the snobbish lady paid, and I stared rudely when that same lady got her wallet out.
Surprise! The snobbish lady had no more than a hundred pesos in her wallet. Now I know why you were saying the merchandise is “cheap.” You’ve run out of cash, right? Credit not good, honey? (unpleasant, evil laughter)
The Bookstore OC:
The bookshop was right outside Penshoppe, so we went there next. I looked around, saw some good books, but saw nothing I really wanted to buy. Wanted one along the lines of “God Behaving Badly” or “Good Omens” but found nothing similar to what I was looking for.
But that’s not the focus of this story. It was the store-minder – the cashier-cum-saleslady of the bookshop. When we first came in, she barely looked at us. Her eyes were glazed and blank. She did not react to our presence and no smile disturbed her serene face.
I did not mind, for I prefer apathetic to over-eager store personnel. So we went in and focused on the books. I looked at some of the hardbound books on the counter. I found nothing I liked so I replaced them back on the counter – in the same order and place I found them.
In a second, the bookseller went from 0 to 100, suddenly engaging in a frenzy of activity. She took the books I checked out – even those which I have merely touched – and put them back, one by one, on the counter top. She made sure that all the edges were aligned. Red was stacked on top of other red books; on top of the red books went the green books; on top of the green books went the white books. The books in each color subset were also arranged according to size and thickness.
Then everything was calm again and the lady bookseller went back from active to apathetic in a matter of seconds. I thought it was just a one-time thing, so I did not remark upon it. I wanted to move on so I told Jabu we should be going. And then it happened again…
The moment Jabu replaced the book he was holding on its shelf, the frenzied lady bookseller reemerged from her apathetic shell. She took out a ladder, took the books off the shelves and started rearranging the books according to genre, author, color, size, and thickness; she again made sure all the edges were aligned.
Jabu and I stared, awed. No wonder there were no other customers in that bookshop. Those who have attempted to browse probably got intimidated by the over-efficient store-minder. She does have a knack for making visitors feel distinctly unwelcome. Everyone who comes in is probably made to feel like a burden – just another person to mess up the books, just someone she’ll have to clean up after.
It’s really funny – but bad for her business. As we were leaving, we were thinking: “All right lady bookseller, you can keep your orderly shelves and counter; we will keep our money – now and in future.”
The Graceful Exit:
I was looking at some eyeglasses. I was thinking of getting a “for work” pair. It’s just a thought, you understand. I would get one if I saw something I liked, but I was not going to obsess about it.
I pointed to one of the frames on display. When I was fitting it on, the salesman told me it cost P 3,750. I almost dropped the frames. The price is all right – for a primary pair of glasses. But it’s not something I’d pay for an “at-home” pair of glasses.
My mind screamed a warning: “Get Out! Get Out! Get Out!” On the surface, however, my expression remained serene. I carefully and thoroughly looked the frame over, just like a connoisseur of eyeglasses looking for possible flaws. I nodded my satisfaction with the frame’s craftsmanship and made all the right approving noises. I handed the frame back to the salesman and moved on to a different counter. I pointed a few more frames to Jabu; it looked like we were seriously discussing the merits of each frame. Then, pasting on a resolute expression on my face, I asked the salesman for his business card and asked about the store’s operating hours. I asked a few clarifying questions (e.g. “That’s 10 to 7 everyday, even Sundays?), told the salesman I’m calling back again after I have made my decision, smiled graciously and a touch haughtily, and made my graceful exit. 😆
The Over-Eager Salesman:
We decided to window-shop next. We went to a toy shop and the department store. We slowly scoured every aisle, every shelf and every counter. It was a lot of fun – except for one thing. In both the toy shop and the department store, we were besieged by over-eager store personnel.
A salesman or a saleslady was always around. Whenever Jabu or I pointed at any toy, a salesman would appear – as if out of nowhere – to tell us about the different colors the toy comes in. Whenever I stopped by a shirt hanger – right before my finger touched the fabric – a saleslady would be asking me for my size.
I know they really meant to be helpful. However, there is a fine line between being “available” and being “intrusive.” I know someone who was so bugged by an over-eager salesman that he decided to give the salesman a taste of his own medicine – he followed the salesman all around the store.
I hope department store managers make sure they are training helpful but non-intrusive personnel. Customers can leave without buying anything simply because they got turned off by an over-eager salesman.
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