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At SM, We've Got it All/Tragedy at the Escalator

Long story short: Kinain ng escalator sa SM ang tsinelas sa kaliwang paa ko at ang laylayan ng pantalon ko, muntik na yung paa ko.

I am not kidding. The escalator freak accident story about a child's jacket getting caught in the end of the escalator, pulling the kid and injuring him, could really happen. And I unfortunately had to find this out myself in an unbelievable fashion.

What follows is an account of how I got stuck in that damn escalator in SM North Monday after Easter, and how I dealt with the management who refused to take responsibility. (Damn greedy capitalists!)

And no, I am not making this up. I wish I am. I don't know if it was because my penitensya last holy week was not enough. It freaking happened.



The tragedy

Around 12:30nn, Silay and I were going up from the SM North Food Court which was at the lower ground floor to the upper ground. We were having a conversation while we boarded the ascending escalator.

When we reached the top, as the escalator folded, I stepped my right foot out of the escalator. As I lifted my left foot, I felt the back part of my left slipper being pulled down by the escalator, then something from the escalator snapped, and got the end of my khaki pants as well.

I resisted and tried to pull my slippers to prevent injury on my left foot. Good thing the escalator's force stopped pulling, half of my slippers and the end of my pants were just stuck.

A few seconds after, perhaps after noticing that people were getting stalled behind us, a technician and a security personnel pushed the emergency button and stopped the machine. I was waiting for the technician to tell me what to do since I was stuck there and half of my slipper was in the machine, or maybe reverse the machine so that I could get my foot out.

But hell, he didn't tell me anything. He just stared at the escalator and my foot and radioed security. Seems his job was to look after the escalator and not the people getting stuck in it.


The moment

For a moment, I was stuck there, until this man came from behind us in the escalator, and probably thought that the escalator was still pulling my leg. He hurriedly helped me pull out my pants from the machine and pulled my slipper which tore it. The back half of it was left in the escalator.

By then, security guards were already there but still no SM personnel talked to me to ask me if I was alright or if I was injured or anything. As it seemed, the "yes-ma'am/sir-how-may-I-help?" assistance was only available if you want to buy something from their stalls.

I stood for a while beside the elevator waiting for of the guards to assist me, but no, they were too busy, reporting the broken escalator.


The encounter

A kind woman who passed by with her kids told me, "Naku, wag nyong palagpasin yan. Demand nyo na dapat palitan ang tsinelas mo at pantalon mo, kung hindi idemanda nyo sila o kaya ireport nyo sa media. Mananalo kayo. Wag nyo yan palagpasin."

That was when I stopped expecting SM to come to my rescue and "assist" me. Heck, the way it looked, they were more concerned about the trouble a broken escalator was bringing to their daily sales. At that moment, the sense of artificial comfort, entertainment, pamamasyal, ease, you feel when you're in SM ceases to exist.

I suddenly felt like I was in Morayta, or Recto, having to deal with the bullshit of pulis patolas. Or in a picket, confronting the greed and profiteering schemes capitalists.

Me: "Sino bang pwedeng kausapin? Kinain ng makina nyo yung tsinelas ko e. Pano ba ito?"

Guard: "Hintayin lang po natin yung higher sa kin,"

Me: "Asan ba ang Customer Relations? Building Manager? Admin?"

(Hehe. If this was a rally, I would have asked for their ground commander.)



The office

We walked to the Customer Relations Office (it's also the Security Office) with my slippers pigtas and torn to half. The office looked like a police desk. It was ugly, with dirty walls, plastic chairs, nothing like the stalls inside SM.

Man at desk: "Ano po yun sir?"

WTF? Anong ano po yun?

One of your escalators is now broken and it almost injured my foot. Isn't that the reason you have walkie-talkies, to know what's happening inside the freaking mall?

Ano po yun?! Ano to, barangay hall?

Me: "Naipit yung paa ko ng isa sa mga escalators."

Man at desk: "So magcocomplain po kayo?"

Ay syempre. Anong gagawin ko? Magpapasalamat?

Me: "Oo sana. Sino bang pwedeng makausap? Yung building administrator nyo pwde ba?"

Man at desk: "Tatawagan ko na ho yung building admin. Pwede pong pasulat lang ng statement nyo." He gets a paper with a header saying "STATEMENT".

Me: "Sige, mamaya na ko susulat, kakausapin ko muna admin nyo."

Man: "Papunta na daw ho, sumulat na muna kayo jan para may reference lang kami."

It really felt like I was in a police station. I reminded myself: when you are in trouble, do not sign anything. I refused to sign the statement unless I saw the building manager.


The manager

I don't know if she's really the building manager, she most likely was a customer assistant or something. She looked younger and more middle class-ish than the security officers at the desk. Parang me highlights at nakarebond ang hair ng lola mo.

Building manager: "Ah, good afternoon sir."

Lintek.

BM: "Ah, kasi po first time lang ito nangyari. Aksidente po ito at hindi po naman nangyayari talaga.”

Translation: The mall was not responsible for the accident. It was not caused by the mall.

BM: “Bale sa ngayon po, papalitan natin ang tsinelas nyo para hindi kayo barefoot."

Translation: O, bibigyan ka pa namin ng pabor.
Me: "E yung pantalon ko?"

BM: "E hindi ko pa po masasagot yan ngayon. Bale mag-file na lang po kayo ng complaint tapos i-raraise pa po sa management,"

Me: "Pano ba yun? Hindi ba dapat may ibigay man lamang sa king pakonswelo ang management dahil sa nangayaring ito?"

BM: "Syempre we understand naman po. We assure you naman po na ang hindi pababayaan ng management ang pangyayaring ganito."

Her words were scripted. It was like talking to a government office. Protocol-ish.

Me: "I'm leaving my legal options open." Nanakot pa ko. "Sige, palitan na lang natin muna ang tsinelas ko."

We went inside the mall, looked for a pair of slippers. On the way, we rode two escalators. Both of which had missing chips, "bungi".

Me: "Tignan mo yan o, sira ang mga escalator nyo."

BM: "Ho?"

Ho?

I wanted the same kind of slippers I had but there was no size for me. I chose another kind, the ones with thick sole para hindi na sumabit sa escalator ulit. She payed for it with a credit card: P191.50.


The statement

We went back to the office as agreed for me to write down my complaint. I have never been comfortable writing down statements on papers, I don't trust my handwriting and always do my stuff on the computer. I seldom even write down notes of meetings or events.

"Kinain ng inyong escalator ang aking tsinelas at laylayan ng pantalon..."

I've decided to write in Filipino to make it easier for me and for whoever will read the complaint. I made it as simple as possible.

"...paakyat kami mula sa food court..."

But I've decided not to make a simple "affidavit" of what happened but, indeed, a "statement" of my demands.

"Dahil sa nangyari sa akin, hinihiling ko sa SM mgmt ang ss:

> Palitan ang lahat ng mga nasira sa akin. Tsinelas, pantalon.

> Bigyan ako ng sapat na halaga bilang kabayaran sa injury, perwisyo, kahihiyan at abalang idinulot sa akin.

> Ayusin na ang mga escalator ng SM at tiyaking hindi na maulit ang nangyari.

Matindi ang aking paniniwala na ang kapabayaan ng SM ang may kasalanan sa nangyari sa akin at hindi simpleng aksidente lamang."

BM: "We apologize po ulit. Tatawagan na lang kayo kung anong updates."


The aftermath

I went back to the "crime scene" to get the other half of my tsinelas, but was surprised to see that the escalator was already repaired and was functioning as if nothing happened.

This proved that they already knew very well how to repair the escalators in case of such accidents. This was definitely not their first time.

I still haven't talked to a lawyer for legal advice. Maybe I could give me at least SM gift certificates for compensation. Some people are saying that if this happened in the US, that I could sue for millions.

Asa pa sa SM.

Oh well. Buti na lang kamo hindi ako naka-Crocs. At buo pa ang mga daliri ko sa paa.