My stint as an SM grocery bagger

My SM immersion article taken from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/131783/my-stint-as-an-sm-grocery-bagger

My stint as an SM grocery bagger by David Ongchoco

 Every year, fourth-year high-school students of Xavier School embark on a four-day “adventure” where they get to experience what it’s like to be an SM employee. This is under the school’s SM Supermarket Immersion Program.

Entering our senior year, my classmates and I were really looking forward to the experience, as it’s not every day that you get these  opportunities.

On the first day, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Just entering the employees’ workplace of the SM Marikina supermarket was already a completely novel experience for a lot of us. It was the start of an “insider” journey that many of us will surely look back on as a highlight of our senior year.

To start things off, we were greeted warmly by the SM supervisors and given a few guidelines and reminders. We then headed to the SM supermarket proper and learned about the different sections.

Then the fun finally began as we got to try out the different jobs in the supermarket.

From boxing and bagging items and goods to the chopping of  chicken, experiencing every work station for ourselves really showed us students what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence.

More often than not, we take these jobs for granted. We think  it’s easy to box items for more than eight hours a day, six days a week. Well, after the initial excitement of trying something new ran out for us, we started to see how tedious these jobs could be.

‘Nakakapagod’

Like one of the cashiers said, “Mahirap kapag walang mga customers kasi sobrang boring, pero mahirap din kapag maraming customers kasi sobra namang nakakapagod.”

It was during those moments of repeatedly doing the routine of slicing the chicken for hours and hours, getting scolded by customers for being slow in boxing the goods, and a lot of other challenging experiences that we learned to appreciate what these regular employees do.

What was even more amazing was how accommodating and helpful our ate and kuya were.  They lent us a helping hand and enthusiastically taught us how to do the task at hand, and never stopped until we finally got it.

“Swerte kayo at ipinanganak kayo sa mayaman na mga pamilya, hindi tulad namin kung saan kailangan naming maghirap at sumikap upang makakain lang.”   This statement by one of the employees really struck me, because it was  true in a way yet somehow unfortunate, given how a lot of us Xaverians fail to recognize how blessed we are.

This is the beauty of these types of immersion. It opens our eyes to reality and impresses on us how lucky we truly are.  In the process, it challenges us to make the most of our opportunities and to share our blessings with the less fortunate.

One of the most important lessons this immersion taught us students is the power of conversation, and how we should be able to relate to anyone and everyone. This immersion forced a lot of us to break out of our shell and talk not only to the customers, but more important, to the employees.

Hearing the life stories of the different employees we encountered made the experience so real and poignant. It was in the conversations with these employees that I actually learned the most.

It wasn’t by choice that these employees were here at SM working as baggers, cashiers and merchandisers. It was out of necessity that they had to apply for these jobs.

Feeding their families

A lot of the employees come from the provinces where life is even harder, so they actually appreciate that they have a job at SM supermarket. Many  need to work just to feed their families. Some need to earn money to continue their studies.

Others are just keeping themselves occupied while they search for a better job that matches their college degree.

Every employee I got to talk to had such a unique story, but the common denominator of their stories was that they had a purpose in working.

The experience was a glimpse into the real world. It showed us that life isn’t easy and that, sometimes, even if you work hard, you won’t always get what you want. However, this doesn’t mean you should give up.

A lot of the SM employees are still holding on to their dream of  one day getting a better job. For them, nothing is guaranteed, but it is this hope that allows them to wake up each day and persevere against all odds.

After four days, a lot of us were very nostalgic and at the same time very thankful for the experience as a whole.

I’d like to thank my school Xavier, SM Marikina, the managers, the employees and all the other people who made the four days of immersion such a unique experience, where we learned how to enjoy even the most monotonous of jobs, value hard work, deal with people from different backgrounds, appreciate our blessings, hold on to our dreams and yes, bag and box grocery items!

One day, a lot of us Xaverians will be running our own businesses or will be holding top positions in big companies. Hopefully, we will remember this SM immersion experience and what it means to be a blue-collar worker who also deserves compassion, equal opportunity and fair treatment.

Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/131783/my-stint-as-an-sm-grocery-bagger#ixzz2iHMeli57
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