Of Train Rides, Fantasies and Reality

I have this secret fascination about trains. Whenever I watch those sappy romantic films, I’ve admired scenes when the lead character is spending quiet moments or about to meet the right one, in her most unexpected train rides. Since then, I dreamed of creating my own perfect train moment. I may not necessarily meet The One, but I often imagined myself wearing that perfect outfit. Long black hair, my 120 lbs old self, dream bag from Kate Spade and sporting my most coveted Tory Burch flats. Reality unfortunately never fails to give me the perfect ruin for everything. I’m most of the time haggard, lousy and sleepy on my daily train rides.

In my country, the government provides three train lines. The most controversial is the MRT. It has been the subject of complaints and inefficiency over the last months. I rarely take the MRT because its service routes are away from my usual destination. The last time I took the MRT was December of last year. Yesterday, I came from an out of town work in the South. The easiest way to reach home is to take the MRT. I took the last station and was fortunate to gain access to the limited seats.

While I was settled to my seat, a security guard approached the passenger beside me. Because my mind was too occupied, I failed to notice the old man needing assistance. He was wearing a protective mask, gauze bandage taped around his neck, frail arms, and trembling legs, which is evident despite wearing thick yet worn out jeans.

When the train started to depart, I noticed his struggle to pull out something from his bag. It was a folded white sheet of paper. He handed me a paper that contained a printer generated letter. I silently read it and was rather impressed with the perfect usage of the academic English. The letter looks like one of those we see as examples in English textbooks.

I later discovered that the man was seeking financial assistance. He has been suffering from the late stages of lung cancer. I spared myself from the other details presented in the letter. I immediately understood his intention so I discretely handed him a minimal amount of money.

While confined on his seat, he continued to extend the letter among the other passengers. An old woman beside him expressed disgust and rendered rude words. A lady covered and protected herself with a handkerchief and pretended seeing nothing. The other passengers rendered the same attitude. Everyone decided to pretend blind.

I don’t want to persecute both the old man and the majority of the passengers. I admit that I cannot vouch for the real condition of the old man. I will not deny the possibility that he is likewise pretending his sickness. Despite the uncertainty, I gave him some money because part of me believes that he needs it. Whether he is suffering from Lung Cancer or not, he is begging because he has nothing.

As for the other passengers who pretended not to see, I will try my best not to judge them. However, the attitude of rendering rude words, covering yourself with handkerchief even though the man was meters away from your seat and denying the man’s existence cannot escape as a violation in my standards of respect. If you refuse to help, it’s not difficult to utter, NoI’m sorry. I respect that they are threatened with the infection and transmission of whatever disease the man is carrying. In my case however, I don’t see threats of transmission by exposing your hands to a piece of paper.  We don’t know, your own hands may actually carry  more threats of infections because of the excessive money you possess.

On the next station, a group of three ladies, based from their t shirts, I concluded as sales associates from this mobile phone service provider. While the other passengers rendered what seemed to be the normal attitude of ignoring; the ladies read the letter and handed out a few bills. What I thought as a showcase of rare compassion changed when one of them blurted, “babalik din sa atin ‘to, triple, doble pa sa quota” (That money will return to us in triple fold, more than our designated sales quota), followed by a chorus of what seems to be the sound of victorious laughter.

Oh dearest writers and producers of these sappy romantic films, I’m not blaming you for making me believe in feel good stories. But sometimes, it wouldn’t hurt to feed me with some taste of reality.


It’s finally over

It has been a challenging week. Everything that happened since Monday gave me a year long quota of worries and pressure. I swear and I’m not exaggerating!

I report for work before 8 am and end the day earliest at 9 pm. I was working more than 12 hours for a week. Everything went worst when I had the need to bring home the work. I sacrificed sleep. There were days when I have to be thankful for two hours of sleep. I was feeling my blood pressure dropping to that perfect two digit rate again. I never bothered to check my BP because it would surely add up to my worries. While writing this post, I realized that this was so far that the greatest sacrifice I made for work. Let me enumerate some of the reasons.

  1. There were several days when I forgot about my lunch breaks. I was too focused with our deadline.
  2. In the middle of the week, I felt a stabbing pain near my abdomen. I later realized the reason. It has been more than 6 hours when I last had my kidney break. Beat that!
  3. I woke up with the heaviest arms. It felt like tons of sandbags were attached on my arms. Blame it on the prolonged hours of using the computer.
  4. I felt a bit impaired because of the rough pain on my hands. I collected a lot of paper cuts.
  5. My legs and thighs pained the worst. On the last days of the week, I have to walk and beg for printers from other offices. I have to work while standing to monitor all the printers working. Lesson learned: I have high respect to all sales personnel in shopping malls.

All the sacrifices are now over. Thank God! I don’t have regrets because we were able to beat our deadliest deadline. What I really wanted to write are the few things this experience taught me.

  1. I tend to become snobbish during crunch time. Sorry naman. 😉 No joke ever appealed to me that time. I guess this is my coping mechanism. Instead of ranting and complaining, I’d rather keep quiet and get things done.
  2. The printer can feel the stress and pressure. Expect this to happen so during crunch time, don’t blame the malfunctioning printer.
  3. I still love my job. I cannot count how many posts contained my sentiments about working and staying in my current employer. I will not deny that I’ve been called to leave my comfort zone several times. The past week made me realize that I still have the fiery energy and determination to make things happen.
  4. As much as I don’t want to use influence, it really helps when you have friends from key offices. It is easier to seek favors and expedite unusual requests.
  5. NOTE: THIS LESSON GOES OUT TO ALL THE SUPERIORS, SUPERVISORS AND BOSSES around. BE THANKFUL FOR SINGLE and pathetic EMPLOYEES. (Note again: I don’t mean to underestimate the capabilities of married employees. In like manner, I don’t impose the conclusion to all single employees.) Modesty aside, you can easily impose unlimited and unpaid overtime work to single employees.
  6. You will always have insensitive colleagues. Don’t get me started 😉 Let me relate my frustration by saying how much I miss my first colleagues from my previous department.The spirit of teamwork and all for one, one for all was thriving in us. When someone is      drowning with work, everyone willingly obliged to offer a hand. The Boss doesn’t need to remind or pinpoint someone. I remember how my friend T would always approach me. “You need help?” “What can I do for you?” “You want me to buy you lunch?”

It has been a different story in my current department. How would you feel when your lone colleague is busy looking for a live NBA stream, when you and your Boss are dying inside a torture chamber of deadline?

Oh well, the last realization made me feel some blood rising to my head. Chill Diane! Haha

At the end of the day, I’m just so thankful that the past week was FINALLY OVER.