“… There’s so much more
And it’s something that I don’t wanna think about
‘Coz I don’t wanna know I’m only running around
I get away
But it keeps coming back maybe to make me
See it wasn’t enough for me to understand
So much for nothing
That’s what I tell myself for I’m complaining
Now don’t look at me as only thinking
Out loud, out loud!
And it hits me ‘coz maybe I know
That it all comes down on letting go
And it hits me ‘coz I’ll never know
When the rain comes down, when the rain comes down
When it all comes down
Chain Gang, from Tuesday Of My Being Sick
Whatever happened to those ladies? They have all probably married and are now enjoying their kids. Last time I heard/read about them was, what, four years ago? They had a reunion album. I forgot the title. But the cover was green. With a sperm swimming its way from left to right. Or was it right to left? All I’m really sure of is it was a sperm.
* * *
For almost a month now I have been taking exams and undergoing interviews for my applications as either writer or English teacher. Almost all of the firms I have been going to are based in Pasig. Only thrice did I have to go someplace else. To Alabang and San Juan around two weeks ago, and Makati earlier today. I have been excited all the time as I traveled to the first three cities, searching for every building that houses the company I hopefully would be serving for the next years. And despite a few glitches, particularly concerning elevators (at the PSE I took the wrong elevators, at the JMT building I kept lining up for the wrong ones, and at gorgeous Insular Life Alabang I didn’t know which lobby button to press and which elevator I happened to summon with the button I pressed), and finding exits through the labyrinths of cubicles, I never felt embarrassed, really, taking it all in as humorous parts of this job hunt adventure.
Somehow, though, it felt like I lost the humor today as I alighted from the PVP bus I took going to the heart of Makati, for another exam. While walking through a drizzle along Ayala Avenue, from the corner of Puyat all the way to the National Life Insurance Building, the words “culture shock culture shock culture shock” kept repeating in my head, and I didn’t even know why. I wasn’t feeling nervous or afraid about the exam. Neither did I feel any strain of culture shock while having all those elevator troubles in the other cities. Why am I thinking about culture shock now?
Then I remembered that it’s somehow probably because Makati had been the setting of some of my worst (and most painful) humiliations. They are all closely connected to Makati, and the specific sites have been:
The Coffee Experience booth in the center of Glorietta (2001)
Goodwill Bookstore again at Glorietta (2001)
the Food Court at Glorietta 4 (2005-2006)
the PBCom building (2005-2006)
the Great Wall building at Yakal (2007)
the now defunct Montage (a Fully Booked sister store) along the bridgeway going to Greenbelt 4 (2007), and
the Manila Peninsula (2007).
Makati is grim, it’s grim, my Manila may be drab but Makati is grim. Or is it just this rain?
When I arrived at the company today, an elderly man who was the clerk-security aide greeted me at the door, and immediately asked for my resume – which I forgot to bring. All memory of previous humiliations faded instantly – a job is on the line here! Probably sensing my worry, he was quick to comfort me by telling me it’s okay, that I remain seated, because it may be submitted after the exam. He made a phone call asking someone about it. He then smiled at me, nodding while listening to the person at the other end of the line, signaling that his inquiry was answered positively. After the call, we chatted for a while. I told him how I badly need the job, and he kept assuring me kaya mo yan iha. While I took the exam in a conference room just next to his station, I could even hear him hush someone – may nag-eexam, mahirap magsulat pag maingay.
The old man looked very much like Judge dela Vega, one of the judges under which I worked for in the past 10 years. He’s been retired for years now. He is beloved by many for his honesty and dedication, for his compassion and magnanimity.
* * *
The exam was time-pressured, one hour. Right after it I still had time to report half-day in court. I made it, with enough time to lunch. All spoons and forks have been used by the time I arrived, though, I had to borrow the civil clerk Ate My’s right off her used plate still with a little fish broth. I took the utensils to the CR to have them rinsed. Inside, there already was Ate Carmen, an employee from another division, washing her dishes in the lone working sink. Seeing I was carrying only a spoon and fork, she grabbed them from me, soaped them, and washed them herself. She shook the water off them afterwards and handed them back to me. I laughed and thanked her, then asked her the usual question we court people ask whenever we converge in the restroom: may pera ba tayo, ate?
What else could be the reply, I knew it even before she smiled and answered wala eh!
I will miss the simplicity of my fellow court slaves.
After my lunch and just before the session started, I had to go take another bathroom break. The house was packed this time, it can’t be helped. It’s the only ladies’ room in the whole condemned GSIS Annex Building. Judges had to be lining up too. And as I was going out, I saw another employee at the end of the line, that woman from another branch who always asks me if her lawyer friends appear before our branch. Once, being quite impatient already by that constant questioning, I answered her that I can’t really remember all the lawyers who appear before us. She retorted, hindi ka pa nga nakakapanganak ulyanin ka na!
Now that’s one face I would never miss. 🙂