Friday, July 04, 2008

"Grandma, that's not a candy..."

"...that's a condom."

Yes - that was what I told a grandma when she bought at Watsons in SM Fairview earlier the orange colored (and flavored) FRENZY condoms' pack for her grandchildren (I think those were her grandchildren, as they called her "mama," but she's quite old to be their mother, anyway).

What was going on?
As I was paying for the stuff I bought, I noticed the boy of about 7 to 8-years-old checking all those condoms displayed at those two, three-story racks facing the counter for Watsons pharmacy products. Not only condoms were displayed there, there were also lubricant tubes, pregnancy test kits - another mini-rack was also sitting at that glass counter, with various condom and lubricant brands.

I just thought at first the boy was one of those restless kids tagged along at the malls and tinker at every item they could get their hands on - but what made me disturbed was when his sister, who looks older than him, and was a bit taller too, also tinkered at those condoms' packs, and the two of them got fond of that orange Frenzy condoms' pack. The boy egged his grandma (who was behind me and was to pay for a mat of tablets [her maintenance medication I assumed] to buy it for him - then I heard the grandma asked the girl, "Ikaw, gusto mo rin `yan? (You want that also?)" And the girl, with her big eyes, nodded. Obviously, with the seemingly absent-minded look in her eyes, the grandma had no idea she was buying condom for her, as I assumed, grade school grand kids.

Then the grandma saw the senior citizens' line was vacant. They went there, and the kids gingerly waited for their "candy" to be paid and have a piece of it. I was still in the claim counter, when a pharmacist attended to the grandma, punched the item, mentioned something to the grandma, but I was quite afar to overhear what she said.

They bought it
Then the pharmacist bought the tray of Grandma's items to the main counter, that pharmacist chatted with the other pharmacists (I was thinking it was about the condoms' pack the grandma bought for her grandchildren). I got my stuff but I still hanged around, just behind the grandma and kids who were about to get their bag of items. I saw the pharmacist put the mat of tablets and the FRENZY condoms' pack inside the bag, and off they were leaving Watsons, with the boy, asking for the "candy." I followed them and the kids tore open the FRENZY pack, split the individual packs among them, and seemingly counting how many each of them should be getting.

This was where I couldn't take it anymore - the grandma was walking ahead while her grand kids were busy with the "candy," when I said to the grandma, "Excuse me po, excuse me po." (She faced me, still with the absent-minded look in her eyes, and the kids who were trailing behind us stopped). "Ah, binilhan po ninyo sila ng condom? (Did you buy condom for them?)" I was wearing a very embarrassed smile here I think, and she replied, "ano? (What?)" "Ah, hindi po kasi candy `yang nakuha ninyo, condom po `yan. I mean, hindi pa po para sa kanila `yan ("Ah, it wasn't candy you bought, it was a condom, I mean, it's not for them yet.")

The grandma fumbling, said, "akala ko candy, sabi kasi niya candy (I thought it was a candy, he said it was a candy)." (And she hit the boy's forehead, but it wasn't that hard as what I saw.) The girl, still wearing the big eyed expression, was just looking at me. The grandma gathered the condoms, and said, "Ano gagawin ko rito ngayon?" "Puwede ko ba ibalik ito?" (What would I do with these? Could I return this?) I suggested here she try, I told her, just tell the pharmacist you didn't know it was a condom, and smiled (embarrassingly and apologetically I think) to the grandma. Then I turned around, still wearing the embarrassed smile on my face.

Who's responsible?
I don't know anymore what happened to the grandma and the kids - if they were able to return the opened pack of condoms mistaken as a candy. I was still thinking about them when I went inside the department store. Less 10 minutes, I stepped out and went back to Watsons to check if they were there - I didn't find them there.

I would not have been bothered that much if say, if those were high school kids getting or buying that pack of condoms - I mean, they're a bunch of curious kids and supposedly, during their age is when sex education is being taught to them already (but it was earlier this year that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines called for scrapping sex education in the high school curriculum? I don't know the update on this, anyway).

But what I found disturbing at the mall earlier, that the grandma didn't know she was getting condoms for her grand kids, and obviously, didn't bother to look what it was about....I'm also disappointed with the pharmacist, and Watsons for that matter, for sealing that sale to a grandma and grand kids - if that pharmacist chatted with her co-workers about that, and wondered why the grandma was buying that, and the kids seemed to be waiting for that, still she did not tell them what it was about....

Who's responsible? Or should any be responsible for such kind of incident? What kind of measure should stores be applying in selling such items like condoms? I mean, they're sure for sale, and be accessible as part of safe sex teaching, but at least stores like Watsons should also take time to inform and towhom to sell a product like that. Not being moralist here or what, but if you were in my shoes, will you also tell the grandma, "that's not a candy for your grand kids - that's a condom."
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