Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Now, what better way to cap off a four part blog marathon than with a piece of poetry. Merry Christmas Batchoy Denizen and Happy New Year too. Enjoy this dessert. Tah tah!
By Luis Batchoy
The music is loud
Enough to drown out
Whatever it is that we
Have to say. The beat
Is the thing
The reason, the say.
To cut through
The lights glimmer bright
So we can get blinded
By something other than
Our own fears;
To keep us lost,
Not to find our way.
Now the spirits flow
To drown out and intoxicate
What little spirits
We have left.
Tonight, it is overcrowded
And we rule against
Each other rubbing off
No one’s a stranger here
And no one has to know
Anonymity. With the music
The beat, the lights, the spirits
And sorrow, checked
At the doors, to be picked
And taken back home
Like a coat
Only when the night ends.
I have been dating in the Metro. Well, yes I do. I still manage to snag a few glances, a few gawks and a few smiles from across the bar. Charm tells me to quit it. She thinks I should stop seeing people I meet at a bar, online, or from the gym –the last one not being applicable even, because I do not even know what a gym is. Is it even edible, or does it go well with Worcestershire sauce or Kikoman? Now where am I supposed to meet them? Power books? At a tiangge in St. Francis Square? At an ukay ukay in Cubao? She said that there can not possibly be a serious guy/girl that I’d be meeting from these places, and if I do, I should not be expecting anything serious from these people, which was what I was gunning for. I know! Classic rules right? I understand that the point is not to go to a bar looking for a serious relationship. Well I do not! In fact I do not go anywhere looking for a serious relationship. I do not go to O bar to find someone to marry.
I have only one question about that rule though. If we are not to be able to meet someone serious from a bar, then what do you call me? I am decent. I am nice. I do want a serious relationship, and yes, I go to bars. Does that mean, then, that if you happen to meet me in a bar, struck a conversation with me, found me cute and hot, got interested in the possibilities with me; should it be taken against me and destroy both our chances just because we happened to have met in a bar? See my point? There must be someone decent out there, and I wouldn’t really mind meeting him or her in a bar as long as I do meet him or her, and soon too, please. Maybe that’s why we are conditioned to play around with people we meet in bars, thus becoming the undesirables ourselves, in our dealings with them as much as we put them down to be. We become the jerks and jerkettes to people whom we have met in a bar, just because, we are covered with the ready clause of ‘Well what did you expect? You met at a bar!’ I think that is convoluted. And just to remind you, Romeo met Juliet in a party; well some medieval equivalent of a bar, I guess. Anthony, I’m sure, met Cleopatra in one of those Roman Bacchanalian festivities, which sound like a party to me. I know! They are both tragic love pairs that ended in despair but they are great examples of that great one true love, met at not exactly your typical Sunday brunch. Then again, Cinderella met Charming in a royal shindig, too.
As for the me dating part, I have a question. Which lie would be more terrible? Someone saying ‘I have a boyfriend’ even when that is not true just because he/she is really not that into you, or someone saying ‘I do not have a boyfriend’ when in fact he does just because he/she really likes you despite the fact? Charm says, it’s the first lie, simply because he does not like you. I don’t get it, really. Why lie? As to the first one, we met through common friends of a friend’s friend. Keep in mind that I do have a very few friends here in Manila. He was nice, he was, well, OK looking, looks decent, good job, intelligent, good sense of humor, and, well, nice - except for the fact that he lied. He said he had a boyfriend. While I appreciate the fact that he did not want to hurt me with the truth that he is more interested in having a relationship with himself and making time to enjoy his own self and ‘me’ time, I do not understand the reason why he had to lie. As if I’m going to break down and mourn and lament the fact of his rejection. Like duh! I could just have said, well if that’s the case, then go buy yourself a journal for your own private relationship, a full length mirror, lots of lube and a dildo. I could have even given him tips on how to plan the perfect date with himself, without him knowing about the plans he made for himself. Sounds convoluted, right? But hey, any relationship is hard work. Even the one you have with yourself.
The second one is another classic. We met at a party. YJ was able to cajole me out of my hole and in his generosity, invited me to tag along and crash with his friends while they were having a party in a bar near where I live. Since the bar was near and I did not really have any plans for the night, I agreed. To make the long story short, I liked someone in his company, and to make it even shorter, we kissed in the men’s room. I was with Charmita that night, and what bothers me is that he kept on asking Charmita if I was single. If this was supposed to be just a random kissing spree with a stranger, well, cute stranger at least, then why all the ‘are you single’ questions? God, this one was a bit confused and confusing, I should say. He said he did not want people to see us kissing, so he pulled me into the elevator and went up and down the three floors almost twenty times. When the elevator doors opened and we got out to get back to the party inside, he grabbed me and kissed me passionately, while people were coming out of the bar, some of them, his fiends. WTF! He said something like ‘Please don’t fall in love with me.’ HUH? So I asked. Why? You have someone? I will keep that in mind. Then he lied. He said, ‘No. I’m single!’ I really did not plan to fall in love with him. Well, at least, not yet. I did want to see where this will lead us, though. How I found out the lie was when YJ texted me asking me to pretend that I did not know he has a boyfriend. He said the guy made him promise in the cab not to tell me that he has a boyfriend. Why? I did not have to pretend I did not know! I really did not know! Again I just do not get it. If he likes me and my kisses set him on fire, why lie? I could make a one time exception and give him a night of debauchery, you know. Just sex!
That is what I hate about the whole deal with both situations. If they really do not want to go serious, why lie? I am a man with an eye for a good deal. If they just wanna play around, I can be a better playmate if I am made aware of the rules, you know! Its not as if I am gonna throw myself on their feet and ask them to reconsider. Yes, I may be someone who wears his heart out on his sleeves but I am not the one to throw it down on the floor and ask them to please kindly step on it! One thing is for sure, I love myself. I may be someone who believes in love and that on true thing, but I am not stupid!
Now, Mr. Having a relationship with myself starts to ask me to go out for coffee dates and I’m wondering if that would not make himself jealous of him taking me out on a date. Mr. Elevator Action on the other hand, keeps giving me dropped calls, and when talking with me, does it ever so carefully as if making sure no one would hear him call me, and still texts my best friend with pathetic reasons why he can’t see me and continue the hot action that I am sure, left him with blue balls that night. I did ask him to come home with me, but they had drinking plans at their condo and it was too much for Charmita and I to tag along, you know. And as for me I went to Malate last Sunday, got picked up by a hot chubs who looks like a fattened up Akihiro Sato, slept over at his condo and while he was asleep, I got up for a pee, and got surprised by his house mate who was also a chub who looked a bit like Bong Revilla when he smiles and his eyes disappear. But at that moment, his eyes were nowhere from disappearing while he was checking out my pecker. I’m sure, it was the Sapphire hoop he was fascinated with, but when he pulled me to his bedroom, I knew that was not the case. It was dark in there. At breakfast, they kept beaming at each other with knowing smiles, and I did not want to wait out for an invitation for a threesome over desserts. As I was taking the cab home, I thought to myself: this is exactly why I do not like myself when I am single. I have officially become a harlot, and as another dropped call from Mr. Elevator Action and a text from Mr. Having a relationship with myself came, I prayed really hard for the one true thing, to please, come and find me, or be found by me real fast - even if it has to be in a bar where that would happen!
There it was, December 24, 2009, Christmas eve. My shift starts at 11AM and ends at 8PM. My housemate Charmita has work for the night and I am looking at a lonely Christmas Eve alone in the house, and had work the next day. At work, people were happily talking about what they would be doing, where they would be doing it, and well…with whom they would be doing it. I listened. Maybe it’s the SAD or Seasonal Afflictive Disorder, maybe it was the chill in the air, or maybe, it was just the plain sad truth… I was alone, and there is no one there. No friends, no family, no special someone to wish me a merry Christmas, not in any particular order.
When I got off work, I walked to nearby Robinson’s Galleria. I was picking out the gift I intended to give Charmita. It was the new Madonna album. Her and me, we are big Madonna fans, well, the 80’s Madonna to be exact. In fact, ‘our’ song is a Madonna song… Borderline… ‘Just try to understand, I’m giving it all I can, but you got the best of me...’ Even her daughter was named after a Madonna song. I might not be the father but I had naming rights. If it would be a boy, we would name him Uriel, in honor of my favorite archangel, the Fire of God. We were looking for a girl’s name if she would be a girl. We were lying down in my bed sharing earphones on Bryan’s Ipod and the song came on, and there it was… the name… Cherish!
So I went to Odyssey, and please people, trust me; avoid this store like the plague. I picked up the DVD’s for Charmita, and was about to pay. I asked the girl manning the counter if she can put it in a gift bag. You know how stores have gift bags instead of the usual plastic especially during gift giving season? The girl rudely said ‘Sir wala po eh, wala nang libre sa mundo ngayon’ (Sir there are none, and nothing is free in this world anymore). That was so insulting and rude! I have money, I was not asking for a freebie! I was just asking if they had gift bags to put the DVD’s in, just like every store! The comment was so uncalled for. I fought the urge to tell her, Eh kung sampalin kaya kita, libre yun! I calmly told her she was being rude and insulting and that is not exactly good customer service! Oh! Talk to me about customer service! I do it 8 hours daily for some of the most impossible people in the world, and fuck it was Christmas eve!
I asked for a manger, so I can log a complaint and what do you know, she was the store supervisor! I could not stand for this shabby service. I felt so bad I told her to apologize. She did in a very snickering way and it did not feel very sincere. She added, oh ayan, nagsorry na ako ha! WTF! ‘tangna! Paskong-pasko eh! I checked my wallet, purchased a lot more of stuff that my money would allow, paid for them, asked for an official receipt and let her bag my purchases. When all was done, I calmly pushed the bag back and said, ‘Now cancel everything! I am not buying anything from such a store with such a rude supervisor, and I am telling my friends, and if I had the time, the mall management too.’ I calmly walked out the store but I was very irritated. I went up to AstroVision, where I was treated better, and the staff heard out my story, and asked which girl I was referring to. Turns out, she does have quite a reputation for being such a bitch! Honestly, that is exactly why I support the local manong devede! Boss, ex? Scandal? If anyone from Odyssey or knows anyone from there is reading this, do yourselves a favor and fire that bitch! She is not good for the business, and she is a supervisor at that? What has the world come to? I am not asking to be treated like royalty, just respectfully. Even the manong devede or the ate’s in divisoria or baclaran have better customer service attitudes than her. Now I wasn’t only lonely, I was upset, too.
I came home, brewed coffee and prepared for a long lonely Christmas Eve. I changed, went to midnight mass, and felt lonelier by the minute. I thought of what I had back home. Can I say I miss my family and Christmases with them? If I were back home, there’d be a small feast with great food. In my apartment, there are only canned goods and a take out of two piece burger steak with extra gravy and extra rice. In Iloilo, there’d be a warm queen sized bed, some aromatherapy candles, an HDTV, a big Whirlpool ref stocked with goodies and that nice tub for a warm bubble bath. In my apartment, there’s only the TV I bought surplus from the pier, the surplus ref I also bought from the pier and the pirated DVD player I bought from there, not even totaling to eight thousand pesos. I had my thin foam, lying Tatami style on my cold floors, no closets, no shelves, and the small bathroom with a leaking shower cord. I’d be having my Christmas dinner in my loaned monobloc round table with four monobloc chairs which the last occupant left and did not intend to get, with Christmas place mats bought on sale from Megamall, and a bamboo plant centerpiece 50 pesos from Quiapo, placed on an empty cheezwiz bottle immersed in growing gelatinous beads thinggie bought from Baclaran at five pesos a pack.
In Iloilo I’d be driving my battered up car Cappuccino, for an after-family Christmas round up of brewed coffee or what not’s with friends, whoemever would be available, at wherever that remains open that night, while here in Manila, I had only season four DVD of sex and the city waiting to serve as my after dinner entertainment pleasure. I plopped down in front of my TV with a pillow I bought for a hundred a piece in Baclaran, pillow cases, 3 for a hundred, and started watching sex and the city, with my dinner on my lap, on crystal plates bought at Eunilane Kalayaan on sale 3 for a hundred. As I settled down for a long cold lonely night I sighed, and I realized one thing. I looked around the apartment. All of the things in here, I bought myself -.my own money, my own hard work; mine. And it made the big difference. Yes, I was lonely, but in Iloilo, I was lonely too. The difference is that, here in Manila, everything I have is mine; even my loneliness. I made my choice. I wanted this. This is my very own personal loneliness. Unlike in Iloilo, I was lonely there because of what other people did. They caused my loneliness. I am lonely because of them. Here in Manila, I find myself lonely, yes, on a Christmas Eve, but hey, I am lonely because of me. It was my own loneliness; MINE! I spooned off the burger steak, cutlery from Baclaran, 50 pesos for a dozen, smiled despite myself, and had me my very own personal lonely Christmas eve.
I have quit my job. No, not the main job, of course, but my other side-job. The main job just got so demanding and tiring that the other just had to go. My tutorial jobs had to take a backseat as I ease into my main job and adjust accordingly. I knew from the start that my main job would take a toll on, well, almost everything. It is very challenging, very time-bound and enslaving, but yes, I love it. So to speak, to the rest of the outside world, we are call center agents, yes, or so to be very specific, contact center agents, but to my mind; we are not just that, we are problem solvers – bankers, in fact. Someone people would call to discuss their APR’s with, people who would clarify their concerns regarding their credit card options, someone who will save them from embarrassment when their cards are being denied in a merchant’s store, someone who would explain the fraud alerts on their accounts, someone they’d inform about their upcoming trips to the lovely islands of the Bahamas, and well, someone who would listen to their stories why their checks were returned, or why they made late payments, and hopefully, waive their fees for them.
Yes, and we are the people whom they could discuss their financial conspiracy theories with, how the government sucks and how the financial situation could be improved, how upset they were with the banks move to increase their percentage rates, and how their husband or wives just got a whim to go to Nevada, rack up purchases causing their credit card to go over the credit limit and or how they’d either be happy, sad, relieved or simply numbed by the idea of ordering new cards with their new names after the final court order of their divorces get finalized. We are the people who listen to their mom’s hospitalizations and their daughters sneaking the car out for a spin, or how evil Starbucks is, enticing them with daily purchases of a grande double shot cream held caramel macchiato. We listen and say, I apologize for the inconvenience, not a problem, let me see what I can do for you. We inform them of how their requests for a reduction of their APR’s or an increase in their credit lines are denied as of the moment, due to the reason that they have high balances, low payments, or problematic credit performance within and without the bank, which, translation, is because they’re racking up too much debt without paying them off. In no circumstance, no matter how shabbily we are treated or how verbally we are abused, could we talk back and say, ‘look sir, I am not the one who made that purchase in a non-secure porn site causing security issues to your account,’ nor can we say ‘look lady, I know you are upset about you credit standing and your high APRs but please, do not shoot the messenger, calling me stupid, and raise hell about your residual fiancé charges as if there is nothing more important in the world like global warming, illiteracy, food shortage and financial meltdowns. Oh, did you just authorize this $200 charge for a Persian rug from Turks ‘R Us and Beyond? Because even if they are located in the East Coast, they do have a foreign currency conversion code and that is where your Foreign Currency Adjustment Charge came from. Do not ask me why they do that, but I am telling you, they do. Call them and shoot them if you must, not me. Oh and while you are at it, do please shoot yourself in the process for being a nincompoop.’ No we are not allowed to do that.
We are not even allowed to say anything but ‘I apologize sir, but I can assure you that I am as qualified and equally trained to take care of your concern’ to people who think they should be speaking with an american representative, not someone from India, or where the hell is Philippines and feel we are ‘stealing’ american jobs. And when they say ‘Fuck you, you stupid fucking idiot’ we can only say ‘Sir I apologize that you are upset, please keep this conversation within the bounds of business courtesy or I would be forced to disconnect your call.’ When they say ‘You have to takeoff this late fee I have never paid late, this is the first time because my mom was hospitalized last week and I will close this account and sue the bank if you won’t’, we could not say ‘You liar, I can see here you have been late the past four months and you reported your mom died two months ago,’ but rather say, ‘I apologize for the inconvenience this might be causing you. Ma’am, let me take a look in your account and see what I can do for you.’
Well, yes, there are things in this job, but then again, really, I LOVE MY JOB. So, end of conversation. So I had to quit my side job. It’s not really about the schedule or putting out longer hours. I love teaching and I love children, ergo, I loved that job. My concern was basic. I was not paid in time, and had to grovel for my pay, in effect, making me spend more than what I was actually earning there, and there were management problems in the company that got in the way of my being an effective tutor. The Labor Code considers a job as a property right. You own your job, and therefore, could not be unjustly stripped of it without legal cause and due process Wages and salaries, by the way, are basic proprietary rights of a worker. It is as close as it goes as a human right in the labor set up. Therefore, wages delayed are wages denied, just like justice. So there, I quit. Meanwhile, it’s the ‘Welcome to customer service, my name is Luis, I’d be very happy to assist you’ all the way for me. Until some side jobs worth calling property rights for me comes up, for that matter. Any offers?