SERVING as a lift operator for almost four decades at Gama Supermarket & Departmental Store, the oldest supermarket in the country, 69-year-old Kannipan Gunasamy is a familiar face to many shoppers in Penang.
The Penang-born Kannipan, who joined Gama at the age of 29, still has the zeal and energy.
“I was recommended for the job in 1982 by a friend who was then a driver at Gama.
“I desire to serve here at least for another five years,” he said during a recent interview with the Buletin Mutiara team.
Kannipan, who contracted polio at the age of four, uses public transport whenever he has to report for work.
“I live in Air Itam. Because I am physically challenged, I cannot drive a car or ride a motorcycle.
“Whenever I cross the road, I always feel touched to see people helping me to stop the vehicles.
“I decided not to opt for another job because not many places would like to hire me due to my physical condition,” he added.
Gama, Kannipan said, has a good working environment and throughout all these years, he has always been enjoying working there.
“Looking back, Gama used to have bigger crowds. Working in the lift gives me the privilege to interact with people from various walks of life.
“There were a few instances when customers would scold me for doing things slowly, but I took that as part and parcel of the job.
“The most exciting part is seeing many of the kids who used to shop here come back as grown-ups.
“They are astonished to see me still working here and would excitedly greet me,” said Kannipan, who has two adult children.
Wrapping up the conversation, Kannipan said Gama is the only supermarket in Penang that provides the service of lift operators for its customers.
Meanwhile, Gama human resource supervisor Ooi Guat Choo said Gama would continue to have the service of lift operators at the supermarket.
“We have a total of three lift operators currently, and once Kannipan stops working, we will surely hire another person for the job.
“This is because our boss wants to ensure that Gama continues the unique service of lift operators for our valued customers.
“The job of a lift operator also involves pushing the trolleys but for Kannipan, we do not ask him to do that.
“He just needs to stay inside the lift and assist the customers,” Ooi added.
Gama has also made its entry into the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for being the ‘Oldest Supermarket & Departmental Store’ in the country.
The MBR award presentation took place at the Gama Supermarket & Departmental Store on May 22 this year.
Story by Tanushalini Moroter
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud