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Never, ever, ever judge a book by its cover.

Never, ever, ever judge a book by its cover.  I remember a few years back. I was working for someone in my capacity as an assistant to the General Manager and in effect. A Sales Manager of sorts in a Mobile Phone shop. I helped set up the store from startup to operations.

Never, ever judge a book by its cover.


One day while inside the shop in Shangri-La Plaza along EDSA, Mandaluyong, a man in tattered clothes came in.  His white shirt tee-shirt was almost gray and had lots of holes in it and he smelt of fish. I assumed he was one of those people who hand-delivered fish in those big metal containers to the market.  Anyway, most of my staff were wary because of how the man looked and smelt and decided to ignore the man. Somehow, the man’s appearance did not bother me at all.

As he was looking over the display of mobile phones, I approached him and asked how I could help him. To which he replied, “How much are these kinds of phones”. he was pointing to our high-end (during the late 90’s Motorola flip phones, even gray units were priced at more than P30,000) phones.

I was amused at the person but nevertheless entertained him by showing him each and every phone on the display and demonstrating the features of each one. One particular phone, our most expensive Motorola Micro-Tac (flip-phone) that I have not yet shown him, seemed to take his interest and was checking it out so intently.  He suddenly blurted out and asked me how much that particular one was. I, of course, told him the price and showed him the whole package that came with the phone.

The man stood silent for a while as if contemplating on the phone while giving it a thorough look-see. Then with a a16caa9a5ecfba25a47d53e89cd743basmall sigh and a smile on his face, he put his hand in his pocket and looking as if he was mentally counting something.  With this, he brought out a very thick roll of money in Philippine Pesos. He unrolled it. And asked me the price again of the mobile phone and counted his money all in P50’s, P100’s and P500’s with which he paid for the phone. (If I am not mistaken, at that time the P 1,000 bill was already in circulation but very few people had a use for it at the time.)

At this point in time, I smiled at my staff and they began to approach me. And started assisting the man.  They were astonished by the man’s decision to purchase the highest-priced unit we had and in cash.  Most people that came in and purchased high-end phones then would purchase using their cards.  But no, this man paid in cash, his hard-earned money.

Never, ever, ever judge a book by its cover.


As the “fish” man happily left with his brand new, high-end, flip-phone. He never gave too much thought to the attention or the lack of it, by my staff, towards him.  I reminded them that it just goes to show how we can never really expect the unexpected. That we should always face every person with equality and treat them all with the same respect.

Alphonse Tan

Alphonse is a marketing person by profession and started his life's career in sales. He is an alumnus of De La Salle University in Manila with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Management.

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