Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Torpe Road Part 7

Pride is a good and a bad thing. For example, your school winning in a varsity game reaps self-respect and makes your parents proud of the thousands of pesos/dollars/baht that they have spent, giving you quality education and athletic students, plus the simple joy of still being with your long-time B.I. friends during highschool or even elementary. On the other hand if your school loses we would sometimes get into a riot and destroy public property and you'd humiliate the image of your school. That’s pride for you. It’s almost as potent as love. Go figure.

Like it or not, men have REALLY huge egos. That’s why we validate our existence with that Ferrari, iPad 2 and that Wolverine Statue purchase. We may regret it in the future, but at least we have something to make payabang sa mga barkada natin. The same also goes with bagging that chick of a girl-next-door, probisyana or a tattooed type. We have a lot to be proud of getting that girl based on pa-porma alone, but there is also the possibility for it to be broken in a million pieces if the said chick ay binasted ka sa mga dahilan na nakakasakit sa inyong pagkakalalake.This is what this girl did to me, which we will call Bacolod.

It was the year 2006. I’ve just graduated from College and want to look for work. Looking for job with a 5-digit salary, I’ve tried to apply at a Call Center. I know na medyo malayo sya sa pinag-aralan ko, pero one thing led to another. Besides, I don’t want to be that one guy na 8 buwan na naghahanap ng trabaho na related sa work nya at wala pa ring mahanap, or yung nakahanap nga ng ganung trabaho pero nasa isang environment na paulit-ulit ang tinutugtog na pambatang kanta at walang water dispenser sa pinagta-trabahuhan nila. Believe me, I know some people. Anyway, I’ve applied in 3 Call Centers but all of them gave me the boot. Either I gave bad answers on the interviews or I failed on the typing or written tests. I just persisted and in Call Center No. 4 I was able to get the job. It was a very rewarding experience.

So there I was, a call center agent. There are a lot of benefits and disadvantages of being one, as I later learned. For example, if you are a fresh graduate, being in a call center makes you marketable while trying to bag that “dream job” because some companies wanted employees with some work experience, and working in a call center does accomplish that. There’s also a lot of money that can be earned, the main reason that a lot of people work here. Just by talking to people over the phone, you can earn almost 40% more than regular bank employees. And sometimes companies give out incentives like gift certificates, additional money, gadgets and movie tickets to urge people to work harder. And because of that, often the work can be really stressful. Mapipilitan kang maki-usap sa Americans who are slow, abuse you verbally, make threats and, on rare occasions, make sexual remarks. There’s also the graveyard shift, where you work in the wee hours in the evening. Picture this: it’s 2am, half of the populace are sleeping and dreaming while you are in an office talking to an American instructing him/her how to open the computer/ explain how interest works/ dispute a suspicious transaction on the bill. And then after work you are forced to sleep na may araw na sumisinag sa bintana ng kwarto mo.Minsan mabi-bwiset ka pa dahil may nag-iingay sa kabilang bahay or me inaayos na kalsada. And of course there’s the theme of monotony. After 2-3 months masasanay ka agad, so it gets boring immediately. But, all work is like that. It’s just that a call center job has a quick learning curve.
I was already training to achieve an American accent or at least sound like a professional American English talker and learning the system that we would use on our computers to assist them when I met Bacolod.

Bacolod is of average height, morenang-morena and has long hair almost reaching to her lower part of her back. She has these mesmerizing eyes that I think that’s how I fell in love with her. Originally we were divided into 2 groups to be trained and she was in the other group. It was in the product knowledge classes, where we would become familiar with the workarounds of the caller’s problems, that I met her as well as a group of 3 friends that are downright maangas at matitinik sa tsiks, something that I lacked and benefited from their advice (which I will tell more later). We were like a dance crew: no one guy is recognized without the whole. There is Smooth Guy: he acts like the leader of our crew and he’s so smooth, kaya nyang pasagutin si Mother Teresa. Next is Bone Guy: he comes from Baguio and has a fetish for fashioning snake bones into accessories. He’s also a chickboy but he’s not that smooth. Me ka-sablayan din. Lastly, there’s Air Man 2: man, I don’t know why I always befriend the mayabang type. Medyo mayabang sya pero nasa lugar naman. He always wanted to include himself on conversations so we also call him Bidaman (laging bumibida) , a nod to that Anime series and toyline. We really bonded, thanks to alcohol and our common topic, which are girls. Heck, any guy group’s topic is girls.

I really had fond memories of the group. There was one time when we were in the morning shift and after work we’ve decided to drink in Bone Guy’s apartment. We talked a lot of things, but things got censored when the girlfriend/wife of Air Man 2 and Smooth Guy, respectively, went to the place to maybe bantayan kami at baka gumawa kami ng kababalaghan, if you know what I mean. It was still a fun time and in the end we stayed up all night and slept for only 1-2 hours then went to work again. Luckily there was training that day so we were able to doze off. Those were the days…

Anyway, when I saw Bacolod for the first time I immediately fell in love with her. She had that impeccable charm na meron ang mga probinsyana. Sabi nga sa Bamboo song na “Probinsyana”

“Mahirap amuhin/ ang Probinsyana/pag napa-ibig/ wala kang duda...“

I was able to man up because I’m tired of being the torpe guy. I approached and talked to her during breaks and when we were seatmates. My friends easily saw that I had plans to court her and they were both a help and a pain in the ass. It’s like Highschool again as we were teased by my fellow trainees. It became hard because nailang sya but I still received support from my other trainees, especially my friends. I was able to show off my artistic side and explain to her in a way how artists think. Sadly, I wasn’t able to learn much about her other than that she is with her best friend here in Manila, nag-aral maging teacher, lives in Bacolod and naghanap ng trabaho na malaki ang kita so nag-apply sa call center, and as I have learned later on, meron ding pumo-porma sa kanya sa klase namin. I’ll tell you more about it later.

I remember my close friends during training said to me na bumili ako ng cake at single-stemmed rose at ibigay ko sa kanya para pan-dagdag pogi points. Yeah, baduy kung baduy,pero kumagat ako at naisipan ko din naman na okey na idea yun. Besides, I am easily influenced by people who are close to me. They’d suggest something or bring an idea, and I’d do it or weigh the options. That’s one of my weaknesses, but there are limitations. Like infomercials.Di talaga ako maniniwala sa mga iyon. Anyway, I had to go to Glorietta and bought a Red Ribbon Cake and an expensive rose that also comes along with a mini-water container to avoid the flower from wilting. I gave it to her the next day and she thanked for the gesture but parang naramdaman ko na di sya interesado sa ginawa ko . I did get a beso so to my Torpe mind okay na rin. I was really open to any ideas that Smooth Guy and Air Man 2 proposed to stage a fight near her seat para makita nya ang mangyayari and si Air Man 2 ang mag-aawat and then Smooth Guy would apologize to me para magmukha akong maangas sa kanya. We were supposed to execute the plan any time after we (or they) have suggested it, so long as we are near her and our kwentuhan would be perfect for an argument na hindi mukhang peke. We were able to do it but me katangahan akong ginawa; hinamon ko sya na magsuntukan sa loob ng Training room. Smooth Guy almost laughed but we were able to convince the people inside the room that we got into a heated spat. Was all the things I did worth it? Well, despite the teasing and the kind of a juvenile attempt to woo her, yes. But did she give a damn about it? Based on my observation, no. Her full attention was on another co-trainee na pumo-porma sa kanya. Hey, I’m all for a friendly competition. Heck, this is my first time where I had one. It was rather unfortunate that I wasn’t really prepared for something like this. Why?

The person who is wooing her is also a her.

Mega Ouch. Huli ko nang napansin na pinopormahan si Bacolod. The lesbian is a little chubby, has boy-cut hair, almost the same height as me and wears glasses. The funniest and bitter thing here is Bacolod seems to really like her. I don’t know, I guess that me pinag-samahan na sila sa unang training class at magaling sya sa panliligaw, probably because she knows what a girl thinks and wants. Nonetheless, I took the challenge and tried my best to make her choose me instead of her.

But alas. I was no match. I finally gave up when I tried to talk to her and she doesn’t seem to be interested in what I’m saying and one time when I walked her home she kept on asking her best friend about the lesbian and naramdaman ko na parang wala lang ako dun. It made a huge crack to my ego. My friends kept on teasing me, saying stuff like “Mas gusto nya kasi na umuwi sa kanila na di buntis” or “Ampota natalo ka ng babae p’re!!!”. It can really bring you down, but you have to move on.

Y’know, even back in Highschool I am intrigued and hated lesbians. Like, how they were able to hook up with a beautiful girl, how they look inappropriate with their trying-hard-to-speak-in-a-husky-voice, boy-cut hair and wearing-loose-clothing-to-conceal-their-breasts. During college the thought of “ Bakit sila ang pinili kaysa sa aming lalake?” kept popping on my head so you can see why I despise them. And the way na manlambing sila, ugh. Get a room. It’s bad enough that boyfriends and girlfriends cuddle na magpalit na ng mukha, eh sa kaparehas pa ng kasarian? But my perception with them changed over time when I befriended some lesbians at the office, so I was able to ask questions and understood their story. Nalaman ko na mga tao rin naman sila, may mga sariling pag-iisip at kagustuhan. When you think about it, our society is not that open to same-sex relationships so mas mahirap din sa kanila yung makahanap ng pag-ibig. As a result I dropped the hate, wala rin naming mangyayari sa akin kung puro lang galit ang nasa loob ko. And I made a vow not to hate lesbians…so long as they don’t pick yung nililigawan ko rin. Fate seemed to be okay with my deal.

Bacolod seems to be doing fine now, based from what I’ve seen on her Facebook page. She “broke up” with the lesbian, went back to her home province and is working as a call center agent in another company. You could say that what she went through was just a “phase” like what girls go through with their stay at dorms during college . Like that Katy Perry song:

“ I kissed a girl/ and I like it”

And the lesbian? Well, from what I know, she traveled to the U.S. maybe to look for work, but bumalik na dito at nakita ko pa sya one time when I am already out from work. For one brief moment gusto ko syang sapakin, maybe to just vent out. But it was just an idea. Malay mo, ako pa yung mapahiya sa ginawa ko.

But don’t feel bad with me (well, I hope you are) as all my efforts are not lost with Bacolod. It seems that I repeated history in a way that I saw her best friend…and I took another leap of faith.