Switch Off

I was busy reviewing a case when I noticed that my reading area had gotten dim. I thought either my eyes were getting tired, or there was someone hovering my area and covering the light. As it turns out, the fluorescent lamp nearest to me had just officially died, and unfortunately for me, the Maintenance Office claims to have no stored bulbs in its supplies. Tough luck. The light from my computer screen is not enough. This is torture for someone with poor eyesight and migraine.

On a lighter note, I just asked an officemate, who is a mother, to serve as an ‘ilaw ng tahanan’. Corny, but it made both of us laugh anyway.
Obstacles. Minor compared to what most are experiencing.
Like in most obstacles, I had two options. One, to dwell on this negativity, rant my head off, and succumb to whatever miserable state I was in. Or two, be more optimistic and claim that as soon as tomorrow (with fingers crossed), my ‘problem’ will have its solution.
There’s an obvious right choice. However, sometimes the obvious right choice is difficult and challenging to do, so I tend to do the other. I rant. I complain. I explode. Sometimes it solves the problem. Most often, it does not.
And that’s why I chose to do the right, more sensible thing. I feel good about it.
Fast forward to a few hours later. Here I am, in the dark again, stuck in the most terrible traffic, faced with yet another obstacle. I am tired. I am hungry. I have food, but I don’t want to eat here. I want to be home with family.
My driver, who’s probably already in his 70’s, seems more tired and much hungrier. He seems more anxious, too.
We talk. I offered him candies and some takeout food, which he happily accepted. He now has a smile on his face, and so do I.
One hour and thirty minutes (and counting) for what was supposed to be just a 20-minute ride home. Unless this car had long mechanical legs or wings, then I can’t do anything (rant, complain, blame myself for choosing the wrong day to run an errand), but wait and be patient.
Patience. My thoughts run back and forth to the fluorescent lamp (or the lack thereof) at the office and the decision to eat some of the takeout food that I have. Just a bit more, we’re moving. Slowly, but moving anyway.
I blink, and it’s not as dark anymore.
I’m home. ❤️

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Much Ado About The Loo (A Reflection On and About Public Restrooms, Among Other Things)

I remember Spider-man whining about how having superpowers is both a blessing and a curse.

You know what I think is both a blessing and a curse? PUBLIC RESTROOMS.

Public restrooms provide the momentary, but immediate and much-needed comfort and relief. It’s not meant to, but it often serves as a witness and venue for when certain matters/issues need to be dealt with privately. Most of the time, at least in my case, it is where I get the most meaningful reflections and the best creative ideas for writing. Am I the only one who reflects, meditates, or composes essays while peeing?

Public restrooms are a blessing.

All these are quickly disregarded though when you chance upon a public restroom smelling foul. While I know it’s not supposed to smell like your own bathroom, I feel the smell should at least be neutral or clean. Or like a bathroom cleanser, maybe? The foul smell assures you the place has not been properly maintained, and that the stench will more or less stick to your clothes better than magnet on steel. The smell is an assault to the senses. Scratch that. The smell and appearance are an assault to the senses.

One restroom I frequent was recently renovated, and with that came a few new facilities. It now has a huge mirror. The tiles have been changed, too. Gone are the yellowish-used-to-be-white ones it once had. The cubicle doors are likewise brand new, with fully-functioning locks. Gone are the days when I had to hold onto the door while semi-squatting on the toilet. That, by the way, is every woman’s hidden talent. Take a bow, ladies.

Blessings, right?

Not quite. Not with the additional provision of bidets in every cubicle. This one’s a menace. A menace, I tell you.

But first, a brief vocabulary lesson. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word ‘bidet’ as “a bathroom fixture used especially for bathing the external genitals and the anal region.” It’s clear which part of one’s body bidets are meant to clean. And although I understand why this particular fixture was provided, I can’t help but also think how bad of an idea it is, particularly in a public restroom. I, for one, feel it’s very unhygienic to have or use bidets in public restrooms, but that’s just me. And this is even assuming, bidets are used properly – correctly. Here’s a thought: what if it is not?

Since the renovation and the installation of bidets, I have never seen this particular restroom this filthy. The cubicle floors are always flooded with puddles of water, and the seats are always doused with a mixture of water and urine. With all the amount of water, err –liquid, you see, you’d think at least the inside of the toilet is clean, right? I give people way too much credit and benefit of the doubt, I know, because it seems with the newly-installed bidets, people have forgotten how to use the toilet flush. Of course, the sink counter is not spared. It would take a whole of effort to leave the restroom with a dry shirt after brushing your teeth.

Unrest and discomfort.  Curses!

From public restrooms and other office or school facilities, to social media, free speech and expression, suffrage – these are all reasons to be thankful. Blessings. If only we do not abuse them. Curses.

But borrowing the words of Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Just like with everything you own, have, and enjoy, you have to value it, take care of it, and respect everyone else who uses or has it. You lose that, then everything just plainly becomes a curse, for you and for everyone else.

I still use this particular restroom, mainly because more often I don’t have a choice but to. I still wish for a day when I get to see it in pristine condition, meaning no stench, no unrecognizable liquid in sight — a place that can actually live up to its name — a comfort room.

 

But until then, as with everything else (other public facilities, social media, free speech and expression, suffrage), I will continue to proceed with care and caution, I continue to arm myself with enough toilet paper, (p)wet wipes, and alcohol with every visit.

Squirrel

Picture this: You’re on your usual quiet morning. It’s 10AM, and you’re already either busy with work or still ogling over the latest news on the internet.

Then in comes one of your workmates. There’s a distance between you and the office entrance, but you’re sure that workmate has arrived because she just greeted the office security with a “Good morning!” at the top of her voice, which reminds you of the same amount of cheer a preschool teacher greets five year olds. Workmate does this to everyone she passes by on her way to her desk — you included, except after she greets you, she lingers by your desk for some chit-chat about her commute to work this morning — every morning, and why she came in late today — and every day. She engages you in a conversation, which you accept out of courtesy because you just don’t have it in you to burst her bubble this early in the day.

Somehow that conversation ends, and she heads on to her desk greeting more people before she finally takes a seat. You, on the other hand, continue on with work (or your browsing), thinking you’re done with her chattiness for now, knowing fully well though, that the day has just begun, and the worst is yet to come.

Sometime in the day, not long after your first encounter, while you have your nose buried in all the paper work, a weird feeling of someone or something hovering over interrupts you. So you slowly, cautiously lift your head to see — there she is, trying to keep herself from giggling — almost as though hovering over you just as you suspected. This creeps you out, and you let her know, but she doesn’t care because she goes on engaging you again on yet another senseless conversation. The conversations are fine, you can probably look past that. Probably. But it’s more than the conversations, it’s the time both of you spend on it; it’s her loud voice —the kind that even her whispers sound like it’s coming from a megaphone; and it’s the animated way she tells her stories — complete with body gestures, yes, body gestures with her arms flying all over the place. It’s a whole show, and it’s a show she enjoys performing in.

This annoys you because although you’re an outgoing person and enjoy the once in a while mingling and socializing, you do value your ‘alone time’. And when it calls for that, you need people to understand, know, recognize, and acknowledge personal boundaries. This one particular workmate though is not capable of that, you feel. You’re tempted, every single time she comes to you, to tell her to back off or at least take a step back, but you don’t because you know it will offend her — terribly.

It’s quite a pickle you’re in, huh? This is your reality every day, at least at work, or when that particular workmate is around.

Your workmate oddly reminds you of a cartoon squirrel. The kind with two large front teeth, always munching on a nut, always lurking around, always with a seemingly crazy annoying smile on her face. And like a cartoon squirrel, oddly too, and admittedly, workmate’s demeanour annoys the heck out of you, but not in the way that would make you want to throw a shoe at her at every single encounter. She’s annoying, but not that annoying.

If you were both cartoon characters, workmate would be Dee-Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory, and you would be Daria (or if Daria’s too much, maybe Eeyore). You’re not just from different cartoons series, but you also do not (and should never be) in the same one. You’re just too opposite; and no, unlike what Paula Adbul believes in, opposites do not always attract.

Actually, come to think of it, in your case, opposites do attract because why else would workmate always ‘squirrel around’ you in the first place, right?

Point is, things — your work world (at least between you and workmate) would be a much better place if workmate just knew where to draw the line and actually acknowledge it.

That, or if you just had more patience in you than you have now. More patience to understand that not everyone’s as introverted as you are. And some people, like workmate, are just naturally harmless squirrels. 



What’s Beneath You

While Lady was having coffee at her desk during lunch break: 

Boss1: Lady, marunong ka mag-photocopy? Hindi kasi ako marunong.
Lady: Ay, opo. Akin na po, tulungan ko kayo. Ilang copies po ba?
Boss1: Fifteen eh.
Lady checked the original copy and realized, it had seven pages. “Fifteen copies of seven pages,” she thought to herself. Huwaw. Keribels. Go.

As Lady was busy making photocopies, Boss2 approached her:
Boss2: Lady, may email ako sa iyo mamaya ah? Paki-final check mo na lang. Ano ginagawa mo dyan?
Lady: Nagfo-photocopy po. Helping Boss1.
Boss2: Eh bakit ikaw? Asan si Clerk1 o si Clerk2?
Lady: Hindi ko po alam eh. Okay lang naman po. Nagpatulong pati si Boss1.

Lady’s story reminds me of the quote, “No job is too big; No task is too small.”

How many times have we refused to do work or a task because ‘it was beneath us’? From answering phones, picking up very visible trash, preparing coffee for a superior, holding a door for someone else, photocopying documents for other people, or other ‘menial’ tasks. How many times have we said, “Hindi ko naman trabaho yan.” (That’s not my responsibility.)

While it is true that our jobs dictate specific tasks and responsibilities, taking on “special tasks”, such as photcopying documents, as in the case of Lady, do not and will never make us any less of a person, in fact, it does the opposite. There is nothing lowly about it, and it is definitely NOT beneath us to help. Be there and do more than what’s expected.

Re-Vision

I used my lunch break to walk around our building and get a breath of fresh air. And fresh air I got, at least for the first few minutes, right before I was chanced upon by one of the office’s legal officers. His concern was simple, but fairly old to me. He finds it “off” how their drafts are being edited, “over and over”. I felt that saying drafts are being edited “over and over” is an exaggeration, but I tried my best to explain and appease him. I, however, was not really given much chance to do that, so nothing was clarified or resolved in that encounter. Too bad.

Some people were not really very welcoming and happy with the idea that someone is tasked to edit or proofread their works. It does not help either that this someone has no Law background, whatsoever. I have found myself a subject of legal officers’ ire and complaints, and to a point, one of the people (reasons) they actually held rallies for. Thus has been the case since I started work here, and this is even after it was explained and agreed upon why someone like me had to be hired in the first place.

Their lack of acceptance makes my job a bit difficult, for whatever I do, no matter how great I am at what I do, there will always be some people who will despise me for it, and even curse the day they met me.

I understand the resentment though. To most after all, it is difficult to receive and take criticisms; to be corrected, particularly by someone, whom you may feel, is inferior to you. I understand that much, so I go through every day with much caution and an open mind, but I still do my job, and every day, make sure I do it well, regardless of the hate I’ve been getting.

But do we honestly have to take every single criticism, every bit of correction negatively? Shouldn’t we take these as opportunities for growth and learning instead? If there was acceptance, wouldn’t that be a much better place to live in — filled with butterflies, flowers, and unicorns? Dream on, girl.

I go through every day with a fervid hope that one of these days, these people will realize that what I do is merely my job; that nothing should be taken personally, and that at the end of the day, we are all in this as a team with a common goal which is to speed up the resolution of cases without compromising quality for our clientele, the farmers.

I hope for that much, not exactly a world filled with just the good stuff, but at least, respect and a bit of consideration — acceptance and being one.

Oh well. Next time, I’m going to think twice about walking around our building. Or at least, do my lunch break reflection and walk on some other area.

C’est la vie.