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This elderly fights back

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AT THE clearly designated priority lane: “For PWD, senior citizens, pregnant women” – as though any other human can get pregnant – at the tellers’ counter of a bank inside a mall I queued. 

Being served at the moment was an elderly woman. Next in line were a robust male in his early late 30s or early 40s with a bulging string bag, a lass who could not be more than 30 holding a libreta del banco with a withdrawal slip between its pages, and me. Red flag: So, why were those plainly non-seniors, non-PWDs, and non-preggos on the priority lane? 

Still, I kept my cool. It would not take much time with only two to go before my turn, anyways. 

Came the turn of the man with the backpack – and eternity set in. Apparently, he was depositing a large amount of cash to multiple accounts. How the money counter buzzed, and buzzed, and buzzed… At the close of that eternity of over 20 minutes, I heaved a sigh of relief as the lady next in line had but that single bank book and a withdrawal slip – so how much could she possibly withdraw? 

Lo, and behold, before the lady could even rise from the bench we were seated on, a stocky man in a red hoodie – plainly an errand boy – with a backpack darted straight to the counter and was immediately served by the smiling teller. 

There went another eternity in the making, and whatever pretensions to priorities this bank held going straight to the dustbin. 

As though on cue, the teller at the regular lane suddenly called out to a biz-looking man at the tail end of the queue there and served him ahead of some others meekly waiting for their turn. A woman, obviously familiar to the man and the teller, thereafter jumped the line too and was served ahead.  

Age, truly, has mellowed me. It took all courage not to create a scene at the bank as I did twice at MacDonalds-Dolores Junction and at another time inside the customer service section of the same mall when I berated their staff for opening their priority lanes to everyone else but those they were created for, slamming the priority lane signage at their counters for effect.  

This time, I simply stood up and left the bank, but not without a “Your service sucks” uttered to the security guard but loud enough for everybody to hear. Outside the bank, I immediately called the mall manager and complained. 

“Again, Sir Bong?” He was profuse with his apologies and said he would personally deal with the matter, as he did the first time I had a run-in with the same bank, not so much as a year back.

That time, I was told at the bank entrance that I had to fill in bank forms outside the bank. When I asked where, I was motioned by the security guard to the plastic chairs at the waiting area. 

Dutifully, I got a chair and propped it at a security guard’s table by the entrance of the mall and started filling in the withdrawal form. As I was taking a selfie on the situation I was in, the guard told me it was prohibited to take photos there. It was then that I called the mall manager. 

And he did come and asked the bank manager to hear me out. I simply told her if the bank wanted customers to accomplish bank forms outside the bank, they could have at the least provided tables or desks for the purpose. Plain common sense. 

I immediately cut her down when she offered to fill out my form herself and take it straight to the tellers. I told her I sought neither special treatment nor entitlement. I did it all – inside the bank on a counter – and queued at the priority lane to finish my transaction. 

Back to the most recent incident. Even before I left the mall, I posted on FB a photo of the hoodie guy with the backpack doing his business with the teller and captioned it as a violation of the rights of seniors and PWDs as mandated by law – seen by a number of friends, among whom the mall’s top brass who messaged me that they would take action. (Having served its purpose, I have since deleted the post).

It was not even 10 minutes after arriving home that I got a call from an unknown number that turned out to be the bank’s assistant manager. She made the perfunctory sorry for the inconvenience and said the non-seniors-PWD-preggo at the priority lane were “diamond card” holders which I understood as big-time clients.         

Aye, it could only be that mellowing that comes with age that gave me the patience to explain to her: That the diamond cards are a courtesy or privilege given to preferred patrons. That the priority lane is mandated by law exclusive to defined individuals. That the law is supreme over mere privilege.

She promised me that the bank will institute measures to ascertain that the priority lane will serve as the law mandated it to do. 

That I will have to see. Meantime, may this serve as a warning to establishments that disrespect priority lanes. This curmudgeon will be out there to take the fight.    

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