Thursday, July 24, 2008

Everybody is a suspect at Fairmart?

Learning & Innovation – July 26, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Everybody is a suspect at Fairmart?


Some things need to change.  I got off the MRT in Cubao and walked towards LRT2 to get to Sta. Mesa.  I had to traverse Farmers Market, the side of Araneta Coliseum and Gateway Mall.  As a curiosity, I entered Fairmart and walked through one straight lane from one entrance to the exit.  When I exited, the guard rudely stopped me, grabbed my handbag, asked me to open it and checked its contents very meticulously.  I asked, "Why are you doing that?"  I yanked my bag out of his dirty (really dirty, you should have seen his fingernails) hands.  He simply shrugged and said, "Company policy."


I felt humiliated, insulted and violated.  The past eight months, I've gone in and out of shops, big and small, around Macau, Singapore, Taipei, South Africa, the USA, Canada, Boracay, Cebu, Divisoria, Greenhills, Glorietta, Shangri-la Plaza, Tiendesitas, SM and Trinoma.  None of them ever harassed me by searching my purse on my way out.  I understand and willingly subject my bag to a search when I am entering a building or a shop.  But at exit point?


One time at Ross in California, the alarm sounded as my friend and I were leaving the store.  Immediately, a guard was there beside us, asked us to step aside and give him our shopping bags.  He passed them three times through the door anti-theft contraption that continued to sound the alarm.  He very politely asked us to follow him to a nearby table and asked us to open our bags.  He went through the contents with a stick, didn't see anything anomalous and apologized profusely for the inconvenience.  As we were going out, the alarm again sounded, we looked at him and he was just smiling.  And we just shrugged our shoulders.  Take note, that he never asked to look into our personal purses.


What's with Fairmart?   I didn't know if they also checked the very few shoppers who entered their store.  I never looked back and I will never go there again. 


In his book, BLINK, this is what Malcolm Gladwell call "thin-slicing or the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience."  Gladwell asks, "How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment in such a short time?


But that guard at Fairmart was not even thinking.  I saw him as I entered the store which was not far from where he was.  He was talking animatedly with a woman who didn't look like an employee.  He never once took his eyes off her even when he accosted me.  He never looked at me even for a second.


Even Gladwell could not, maybe, explain that.  Some company policy and a subservient security guard—a fatal combination for business.


Gladwell wrote about Amadou Diallo who lived in the Soundview neighborhood of the South Bronx, New York City.  Diallo, 22, was from Guinea and sold videotapes, socks and gloves from the sidewalk.  He was short, unassuming and had a stutter.


On the night of February 3, 1999, Diallo was downstairs standing at the top of the steps of his apartment building and taking in the night.  A group of plainclothes police officers (Ken Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellom and Richard Murphy) in an unmarked car saw him and asked, "Can we have a word?"


Diallo paused and ran into the vestibule.  The policemen gave chase and told him to, "Get your hands out of your pockets."    Diallo started to remove a black object from his right side.  And Carool yelled out, "Gun!  He's got a gun!"


All four policemen fired a total of 25 shots at Diallo.  Then there was silence.  Guns drawn, the policemen climbed the stairs and approached Diallo.  Boss said, "Where was the fucking gun?"  Where there should have been a gun, there was a wallet.  Carroll sat down on the steps, next to Diallo's bullet-ridden body, and started to cry.  Boss was so distraught, he could not speak.


That Fairmart guard fired his gun at me, so to speak, without thinking and killed the prospect of me becoming a customer of Fairmart.,

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