On Courtesy to the Elders and the Priority Lane

What privileges come with being a Filipino Senior Citizen? Do we have to read the 11-page Republic Act 9257 before we understand them or is our Filipino tradition of caring for the elderly enough reason for us to graciously assist them in public? I thought it was as basic as that, but last week, I realized that we need to be more assertive in reminding others of the courtesy to elders, especially to those who are already raising their Senior Citizen Cards up while on queue.

My Papa has been enjoying the privileges of being a dual citizen (a Senior and Filipino citizen) ever since he became one two years ago. Aside from other legal and technical whatnot, the 20% discount is what he is mostly thankful for. The next thing being the immunity to falling in line because of the priority lane. Kudos to the Philippine Government for giving seniors the benefit of saving money and time just when they need them the most. But apparently, some establishments only use the priority lane signage for props.

Dahil sa Jollibee bida ang sarap, Papa and I decided to have a hearty dinner there some time last week. Of course, he headed straight to the priority lane, got his SC Card out of his wallet, and lifted it just high enough for the cashier to see that he was third in line just behind a teenage girl. He ignored it. We didn’t mind. When it was our turn, I stopped before I ordered (I’m Papa’s spokesperson) because there was another elderly woman who seemed to be complaining about something. He brushed the woman off and told us to pay no attention because she has brain damage. I just frowned and told myself it’s okay because not all people understand the broadness of the term. Then he took our orders thoughtlessly. I did not feel the would-that-be-all-ma’am or the thank-you-for-coming-please-come-back-again-soon vibe, you know? He was rough and obviously only wanted to get things done with a little arrogance towards his fellow crew on the side. You can tell the difference between a person who’s only exhausted and one who’s naturally crass. Again, my Papa and I just looked at each other and sighed.

I got a cup of Oreo shake that I couldn’t sip from the straw. It was just Oreo ice cream. It was too thick to be a shake. Alas, that was our chance to call the manager of the branch to our table. She apologized because the shake wasn’t prepared the way it was supposed to and served me the real thing. My Papa and I also mentioned about the cashier who took our orders earlier and she was very sheepish and apologetic about it. She promised she would call his attention and ruin his day like he did ours.

He came to our table and blurted out, “Hello, Ma’am. Yes, here is the receipt. Yes, I subtracted the discount from Sir’s bill. I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear.” Hhhhhm? So I explained that the matter was that he should’ve acknowledged the SC card. He said there was a queue and he can’t tell the customer before us to let us first. Uhm? And then he said that there are two priority lanes and he didn’t know that his was the other one. He said, “I’ll let the manager know about this and tell her that I didn’t know that I was assigned to a priority lane.” The signage being that big in front of him, right.

All right, all right, I’ll hide your face.

Also, there was no other priority lane. Nevertheless, he took the time to go to our table to apologize. The manager checked up on us a few minutes after he left and she promised to do what she could to improve their service. He was still lucky, I wasn’t on my period or PMS-ing. I was calm though I spoke to him in English just because I had to hit his ego before it reaches the ceiling. I can excuse his ignorance [of the law], but not his arrogance.

Whose responsibility is it to orient the crew about the privileges of the elderly? Or must we still all assume that they know them beforehand because it’s a tradition, a value that we Filipinos boast of?


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