The Race To Nowhere

It has been some years since I last rode the Metro.  It seems like a lifetime ago but, I’m told I’m not missing much; in fact, the race has not gotten better – it has actually gotten worse.

What is this race that I’m talking about?  Is it the Indy 500?  The Olympics 100 meter dash? The Boston Marathon?  Nope, none of the above.  It’s just that daily race to get to the Metro, get to be first in the ticket/token booth, get to be first in the queue, get to be first in the car and most of all, get to be the first to be seated.  Then once you’ve reached your stop, then there’s another race.  You stand up and push your way to the door to get to be the first to get off, get to be the first to exit the turnstile, get to be first to go down the stairs or up the stairs, and then race your way out all the way to the street.  With all these, you win a “No Prize!” Yay!  Was it worth it?  I really don’t know because with all of these, I think I’m always the last and I am none the wiser about this race.

Anyway, I kept thinking that my fellow Metro riders must have already forgotten about courtesy.  When people were pushing their way in, I was able to get into the car without literally walking into it, just got pushed in, so to speak.  Also, I have had two bracelets which broke because it got caught in another passenger’s bag, the other got caught in another’s hair clip.  So, I guess you can imagine how it is.  I’m told it’s the same elsewhere in the world; it’s just that we here in our country are just beginning to experience it.  With this in mind, I crossed out lack of courtesy; this is just the attitude you have to have when you decide to ride the Metro.

Next, I thought about population, better yet, congestion.  Since the Metro is the faster option to get to your destination despite the long queues especially during rush hours, it should come as no surprise to be in the company of probably half the Philippine population this time of the day.  True enough the Metro Manila area is the most populous in the entire country and the Metro and LRT already run through most of the major avenues of the business districts.

However, every where else, life is still quite peaceful even during the rush hours. It’s not as fascinating when you think about it, what with the lack of skyscrapers, malls, night life and the like that you find in what is referred to as “urbanized”. For people in their autumn years like me, I guess this is a preference.

So, this would be the phenomenology of the Metro race.

 

How Do I Look?

It is one thing to be self-conscious and another to be overly critical and more extreme, to be judgmental.

That’s perhaps one of the frailties of being human. The tendency to think that I could sort out another’s personality just by how the way the other person looks like – to me. Not fair, I know but that’s just the way of the world.

At one time, a lifetime ago in fact, I went to the ladies room. It was full as it was noon break so you can just imagine how many ladies were there beautifying themselves before going back to their workstations – perhaps to appear beautiful to their monitors, to their notebooks, their pens, or what-not’s that are scattered all over their desks… unlikely that it was for the purpose of catching somebody else’s attention – as no one can be seen from behind the computer monitor once you’re seated. Anyway, going back to the ladies’ room, I did my thing, washed my hands and was silently going out of that cramped room when one of the ladies in there shouted “Wow, conceited!” a comment apparently directed at me. At that time, I did not take notice of it as I’ve said, I was in a hurry to get away from there. It just so happened that the lady who shouted the comment was seated next to me. She told me of the incident in the ladies’ room and I asked her what she meant by that. She said that since I was there, wasn’t it part of the ritual to look at the mirror and check my looks? I was taken aback by that and I told her just that; and merely answered that I went there for one purpose. Since that was done, I washed my hands, and with the number of ladies retouching their makeup, I went out. I also said I felt all right with how I looked. Seems like I did a mortal sin with regards to rituals in the ladies’ room. Forgive me for my ignorance.

Well, back then also, there was this nun from whom I frequently asked permission to borrow visual aids for my social sciences subjects. Whenever I entered her office, she would wave me aside to her assistant and instructed the assistant to just see to whatever my business was. I can’t remember having the opportunity to talk to her that I may have said something that offended her that she cast me aside every time I walk into her office. Do I offend? Perhaps — I thought as I was always brushed off by this nun. Later that school year, that same sister was in charge of our faculty meeting. As she was running down the names of the key speakers for that event, she came across my name and she asked her assistant who I was. The assistant of course told her all about me and all she said was, “Why? What is she going to talk about? Isn’t she a little too young to be part of this?” Ahem.

Then came my part at that Faculty meeting. I was to render a 10-minute talk about teaching methodology for Philippine culture. All in all, my speech because I was so nervous, just took half the allotted time. After my delivery, everybody was so quiet and I thought, “Oh no, everybody fell asleep on me.” However, the same nun who said I was too young, was the first one to applaud and then all the rest did the same. The one comment I can never forget then was, Well, this is someone we ought to watch out for!”

How do I look? Do I really deserve to be spared some amount of one’s precious time? Or should I be brushed off like a pest, unworthy of one’s attention? I don’t really know and I do not really feel it’s important if people do not take notice of me – in fact, I prefer it. The irony is, my work actually called for that as I was a College Instructor of general education subjects and my students had to pay attention to what I have to say; otherwise, they wouldn’t pass and cannot proceed on to their higher level subjects.

So, what I wanted to point out here is this: First impressions do last, however, there is always the second chance if you do not pass the first test. You see, I may look real pretty to you but if you spoke to me, my voice might be irritating or there’s really nothing in there but air between my ears. So, would you rather have that pretty face and do away with substance? Or is substance more important?