Sunday, August 9, 2009

First Day High

It took me a week to blog about this because these past few days have been among the busiest of my life. Yes, The Obiter Master got even busier, if that was even possible.

Anyway, the truth has to be told. Especially when the truth is this eventful.

As a student, I was big on the first day of school every year. My parents could not afford to buy five children new stuff all the time, but I made sure that my shoes were shined, my pencils were sharpened, my hair was tied, and that I was the picture of the perfect student, so I could make a good impression on my teachers and classmates, and to set the tone for the rest of the year.

That excitement had diminished through the years, especially when I started working. I had entered many workplaces with wrinkled clothes and dated hairstyles on my first day, so focused was I on the "work at hand", and finding all the effort required to meet my standard of perfection too exhausting.

I went back to my old ways for this job, as I got more comfortable under my own skin and at the prodding of good friends who remembered me when I was neater and more confident. As I needed to make it work in my new work, I slowly planned everything and psyched myself mentally, spiritually, and physically for the task at hand. That meant wearing crisp office attire, sporting a low-maintenance hairstyle, and putting my best foot forward.

I was not able to sleep the night before my first day at the Supreme Court. With too little sleep, I finally got up and brewed some coffee. I had my prayer time and wrote (using a pen) on my journal. I ate adobo and rice for breakfast, and braved the rain to drive from Commonwealth Ave. to Taft Ave.

Only it took me three hours to get to the office. It had rained all throughout the weekend before that, and traffic was bumper to bumper. I increasingly grew anxious during that long drive that could have taken me to Subic, and kept texting my officemates. I wanted to make a good impression on my first day, to be in by 8 a.m. with a smile on my perky face. Instead, mourners for Tita Cory clogged the roads leading to Manila, and I was late.

I parked at the nearby mall and steeled myself for the long walk to the office. I didn't realize that the guards would not allow me to exit through the mall. I was encouraged to take the ramp. The wind was blowing so hard by the time I got out of the parking lot, and my little umbrella, which I got free from Watson's, got turned inside out. My new shoes did not have enough friction for the slippery road. I missed my Crocs so badly that morning. A couple of workers sitting outside the parking lot commented, "Miss, sira ang payong mo (Miss, your umbrella is broken)," and I ignored the urge to retort, "Really, you think?!"

I got disoriented and believe it or not, could not find my way to Faura. I asked for directions and the people were not so helpful, as if Padre Faura, on which stood the Supreme Court, the Philippine General Hospital, and a whole lot of other famous landmarks, suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. Finally, I saw something that I thought I would never ride again - a pedicab! I hailed it and asked the driver (more like pedaler, if there is such a word) if he could take me to Faura. He said yes. Note how he lied.

A few minutes had passed, and I could not see clearly because of the plastic covering around the pedicab that shielded passengers from the rain. I had a sinking feeling that the pedaler did not know where he was going, for he kept pausing to look at street signs. Finally he stopped to ask for directions, and true enough, the man pointed to the opposite direction.

I complained and complained but the pedaler did not reply. I realized that he could not hear me through the rain and the wind and that ugly plastic rainproof shield all around me. I felt like The Girl in the Plastic Bubble.

I recognized Padre Faura and shouted out directions to the Court. I wanted to strangle the pedaler when I got off. It took him FIFTEEN minutes from Pedro Gil to Faura, on a pedicab. Can anyone beat that? I told him to memorize Faura as he was in the pedicab business. He just smiled and charged me Php30.00, the equivalent of my whole day's parking fee at the nearby Robinson's Mall.

I shook the rain from my clothes, hand-combed my hair, and entered the gate. I could not pause to admire the cobblestone steps, the imposing columns, and the life-sized statues of former SC Chief Justices. I was very late already. When I entered the elevator, I noticed something. My new linen blouse had an ugly stain on the right arm, and it would not go away despite my furious rubbing with alcogel. I must have gotten it while I staggered against the wind and walked close to the walls for protection.

So there I was on the morning of my first day, with disheveled hair, wet shoes, stained blouse, and pounding heart, the latest employee to enter the chamber to offer the Republic of the Philippines my personal best, which of course was always far less than perfect.

The rest of the day went better. My boss welcomed me with a smile and two thick folders to work on. I found lunch mates immediately. I went to work, got a migraine, and drove for another two and a half hours going home. I could barely move by the time I got home and fell asleep immediately when my head hit my pillow.

Sometimes, things do not go as planned. Tomorrow is another Monday, another first day, another exciting day. I have resolved to plan less. It's a new resolution. I plan to break it again tomorrow.

I cannot sleep again.

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