RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: SM SOUTHMALL
I hope this reaches someone who can help the man in the photo. His name is Adelino Guatno, a janitor with a company that services SM Southmall. He’s probably a contractual employee but he went out of his way to help me today and I am very grateful.
The story is a bit a long but let me explain what happened, so you might be able to understand why I was so moved by his kindness.
This is only my third venture into Southmall – and I must admit, I still don’t know where anything is located. The place is huge. I figured I’d be able to do all my errands in one trip. I was looking for shoes and fashion tape for my husband’s christmas party costume and needed groceries for the next couple of weeks. SM was my best bet to find everything.
Although pregnancy isn’t really a disability, at this stage women like me do need quite a bit of help, especially when carrying heavy things. If any mall was disability friendly – I knew first hand that SM would be it, after all they seem to have a great PWD program. I didn’t know I was going to be in for such a surprise.
Unlike other supermarkets, where the bagger automatically escorts you to the car (disabled or not), the SM bagger curtly told me he couldn’t help me with my groceries because they weren’t allowed to leave their station. He explained clearly that he was just a bagger – that’s all they do, they bag your groceries.
I’m two days away from possibly giving birth and undeniably pregnant. Tired after hunting for costume parts and running errands, I found myself wandering around lost in SM Southmall with my shopping cart full of goods and nary a clue where the service elevator was located. I wanted to cry.
After my supermarket experience, I was a little bit hesitant asking other SM staff for help. But my aching feet wanted to go home quickly and directional signs were scarce.
I quietly approached a janitor who was busy cleaning his section of the mall, and asked him where I might find an elevator so I can bring the cart down to the basement. I was fully expecting him to just give me directions, or give me vague instructions like the last guy, but he packed his cart and motioned for me to follow him.
We found a glass elevator, and both quickly discovered that I wasn’t allowed to take it with my cart. The janitor asked a security guard how we might be able to get to the basement. We followed the guard’s directions. The janitor towed his cart along, and motioned for me to follow him. On the way, he swept and picked up whatever litter he could. He still walked faster than me anyway. When we got to that exit, we found out that they only had stairs leading to the parking.
I was pretty sure he was going to give up at this stage. We walked back to the center of the mall and I was apologizing for disrupting his work, when he parked his cart near a post and picked up a mop. I saw him walking away quickly and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to follow him.
When he came back for me, I realized it must’ve been cumbersome for him to push around his cleaning cart. Holding the mop made it look like he was at least working (which he was) and also might have been a prop – otherwise he might be questioned for walking around and neglecting his work.
We ran into his supervisor and he asked for directions. His supervisor said that there was a freight elevator near China Bank, and said I should just walk straight down the hall and I should be able to find it. That’s when we both walked back to his cart and he asked me if I would be okay.
I thanked him profusely and offered him a hundred pesos for his effort and time. He politely refused, and when I insisted he began mopping quickly as far away from me as possible. I explained to him that what he had done for me was so wonderful and I just wanted to thank him. He said it was part of his job.
I tried to explain that I thought what he did was extraordinary because the supermarket baggers didn’t think it was their job to help me – and here he was, dropping everything he was doing to escort a pregnant woman to an elevator. He wouldn’t budge. So I did the only thing I could, I asked for his name and took his photo. I wanted to share my experience of his kindness with you, and find a way to either pay it forward or pay him back.
Smiling, I made my way slowly down the end of the hall, and eventually found small sign that said “Freight elevator” near Chinabank. When I looked back, he was a few meters behind me mopping away and trying to make sure I was going in the right direction. I asked him again if I couldn’t at least treat him to merienda (snack) with the money I hoped to give him and he smiled politely, backed away and waved goodbye.
I don’t know how to thank him for providing the best kind of customer service ever. Certainly SM needs more people like him, and more policies like his personal take on helping people. Long-winded as this story is, I hope it reaches someone who can make a difference in this man’s life.
To SM – this man should be your employee for the year. He’s proactive, sincere, service-oriented and makes for an excellent brand warrior. Maybe the guy who writes your supermarket policies can learn a thing or two from him. 😀
Good job Mr. Adelino Guatno! Thank you for being a wonderful person. Thank you for making my day and diffusing the regret and disappointment I initially felt for SM Southmall.
Picture of Mr. Adelino Guatno at SM Southmall, an angel in disguise
UPDATE: SM was very quick to respond to this facebook post. Within a few hours, most of the managers (and even the Sy Family) were looking for ways to improve their supermarket policies and figure out how I fell through one of the cracks in their service blueprint. They were all very, very positive in their response and by that evening had already gotten in touch with Mr. Guatno.
I’m happy and grateful that so many tried to help me thank him.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that angels walk among us. When we see them, we can choose to acknowledge their presence and share our experience thereby spreading the good vibes or we can take what they’ve done for granted.
Mr. Guatno was my angel that day, thank you for allowing me to share the story of my experience. I hope to hear about the angels you meet too!
Random Acts of Kindness: Janitor Adelino Guatno is an Angel in Disguise
Original Story (link) written by Kathy Chua-Grimme
Shared with her permission
“Angels exist everywhere. Hopefully other people will recognize and share with us the angels they have met” ~Kathy