The hours went by. I was actually out of my mind. I don’t think I have given the best of my professional suggestions but it was his fault. Forcing me to work on Friday night? Some people have no consideration at all! He was enthusiastic with all the plans that he laid on my table—and to convince him I was all ears, I have to say things like “Ooh!”, “Ah!” , “Yeah!”, “Hmm…”, “Huh?!”.
Finally it came to an end. “Thanks for your time. I know it’s a Friday but still you managed to meet up with me.” Now I think this meeting was conspired. “Let’s just set another appointment so we can discuss a more detailed planning, all right?”
“Ah--I mean, of course!” This time he reached for my hand to help me get on my feet. He then shook my hand. I turned my back and hurriedly worked my way to the glass door... like there's still hope for Transformers. Then I heard Ric’s voice again.
“By the way Robin, on our next meeting I’ll have my new hired Advertising Associate meet you as well.”
I half-turned, “Yeah, thanks. Goodbye.” In other words, whatever.
I checked my watch. Great, it’s already past nine. Maybe even Megatron is prepared to go home somewhere in the galaxy. I called up Zeke right away so we could meet up midway somewhere. He’s been waiting for almost four hours now! Rats. I’m so dead.
Now I feel guiltier introducing Zeke this way. Actually, he is a very nice guy. We’ve met in college and since then been hanging out once in a while. We spend time in the most ordinary almost weird ways you could think of – walking around the mall with nothing to buy until the stores are closing, eating at McDonald’s and collecting happy meal toys, watching Anime series (we don’t care for replays) at my apartment with pizza takeaways, checking out thrifty, second-hand and other unknown bargain stores at the most crowded places in Manila, and we definitely love book stores, especially Book Sale and of course, Midnight Mall Sales (okay, I drag him to this one). I can’t really tell what kind of relationship we have. I don’t think it’s just friendship… or maybe that’s what I would want to think. He is a gentleman, and also thoughtful. Not to brag too much about him, but he is also smart. He has a say about every topic I could imagine. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m also really smart, you know, having someone to get along like Zeke.
“Hey Zeke…? Sorry! Where are you?” I said as soon as he answered my call.
“I’m sitting here right in front of Book Sale.” He is calm. This is bad. And he is seated, which means he is already tired. I hurriedly said, “Okay, be there in a minute.”
The problem is -- this is not the first time that Zeke has waited for me because I have to run for some urgent, unexpected and long meetings whenever we plan to do something after work. I can’t just send him away, right? We always meet up within the vicinity of my office, and his work is far from mine. So telling him that our get together is off when he is already out there somewhere isn’t a good idea. Plus, he refuses to leave just because I have to be a little late (which I often tell him, even I know that I would be so late)—Like now.
When I get to the meeting place, Zeke was slumped to a steel bench. He looks so cool with the huge head phones stuck on his ears. I approached him. He looked up as I smiled weakly at him. He smiled back wearily.
“Sorry…” is all I can manage to say. I sat down. Think of something smooth to say, Robin. But then I heard him saying, “You know, it would be easy for me, and easier for you, if you can just teach yourself to be a real professional…”
What was he saying? Okay, calm down. I can’t be angry since I was the one late, right?
“What do you mean?” my voice quivered a bit as I uttered the words.
“Robin, look at you. Are there any other things you’ve been doing other than work? If I have not been here, you will just go home and sleep. Being a professional is working when you’re at work but eating when you got to eat and going home when it’s time to go home.” He speaks slowly but then there are those emphases I can’t miss. On a quick realization, I think he was emphasizing every word. “You work while you’re eating, you work while you take your leisure time... if it's still called "leisure" for you... you work while you’re on the road going home… heck, you even work even while you sleep!”
I would want to jump the gun and tell him how wrong he was. But then again, I fear that there might be truth on what he was ranting about. I actually got a feeling that everything he said was true. So before reacting, I reviewed his arguments.
Argument #1: Are there any other things I’ve been doing other than work?
Of course I do! I watch movies whenever there are sponsored premiers and I attend parties hosted by TV Networks (not that I always wanted to, but it’s sort of a PR so that my clients will get better deals). And I got a lot of things to do when Zeke is with me! We watch DVDs and Anime series and shop outfits for my work (You know in advertising, you can’t be caught wearing the same thing every time you meet with your client, well that's my personal principle.), we eat out and get around the mall. Wait! Do the things I do with Zeke count? Because he was telling me that if he’s not here now, I would just go home and sleep… So what do I do when Zeke isn’t around? Hmm… there’s got to be something! I know I’m busy on weekends! Oh yes! I do the laundry, right? I also change my sheets and curtains on weekends! What else? I surf the net. Yes sir! I surf the net for what could be the latest trend. Knowing what’s in and what’s out hint me of prospective clients I need to go after! I surf the net for ideas on the latest campaigns that we need to work out for my… Oh no. This is pathetic. I’m just 25, and the most creative personal activity I do is to change my sheets and curtains?
Argument #2: C’mon. Do I work all the time? That is SO impossible!
And where did Zeke get this thing about how to be a REAL professional, anyway?
“I had a meeting with the Head of the Engineering in San Miguel today. He gave us this principle about being professionals…” and then he goes on about how achieved this man is, both in his career and family.
Okay, so I eat my breakfast and lunch on my desk while I do some papers.
Well, I had some out of towns, right? I went to Cebu last November for… for Advertising Congress.
Now I have to admit that I dream of my newspaper deadlines, too.
Seemed waking up from a nightmare I was on my feet to face Zeke once again. From that reflection, all I could manage to say was “can we get something to eat? Viet food, maybe?” In a few seconds, he looked at me with those kind eyes. He took my hand, and then we slowly walked the wide aisle of the mall. People were everywhere and the sound of the arcade was deafening. But at that moment, I felt good… with Zeke’s hand holding mine. All these years, I never tried to define this feeling. Neither did he. We just go with it.
We ate and forgot about what was said before. We talked about other things like the cool Quicksilver and Roxy surf shorts he saw at Surfworld (we don’t surf, but who cares? We just like them). There was also the new model of Blackberry we both wanted to buy but we can’t so he goes on to say that the latest of Sony Ericsson was quite good as well. Every time I attempted to open a thing about some situations with my clients or in the office, he will playfully slap my hand. We’ll both end up laughing crazily.
Zeke never missed a time to walk me to the bus stop. Like a parent to a child, he always sees to it that I’m sitting properly in the bus before he leaves. Climbing in to the bus, I waved goodbye to Zeke. He smiled back and hand-signaled with thumb tapping the forefinger – meaning to text him when I get home.
It’s going to be a long ride to Soldiers Hills. Usually it takes me an hour and a half. I often wonder, maybe these buses have some sort of “magic trick” to knock out its passengers in the highway. I myself am a victim. Sometimes, I come to my senses in the middle of the trip and find myself worrying whether or not I missed my stop… that’s because I don’t really know the roads taken from the start.
Okay, I’m coming clean! It’s just so irresistible not to fall asleep in the bus, with all those little bumps, sudden breaks and swerving attacks—it feels like I’m a newly born child in the cradle of a mother!
But tonight is different. I got to be strong and matured. There are a lot of things to think about my life. Where am I going with this workaholic attitude? I’m 25 and I got nothing best in me but my job, which I’m still doubtful despite of it all. Oh I know I’m not that depressing. Yes, I don’t have my own car yet but I have a collection of Zara, Mango, Juicy Couture, Topshop and more brands of clothing, bags, shoes and accessories—all those whether I got in a big time sale or e-bay. But I know it’s not enough. I got to move forward. I don’t know where, but somewhere you know. There’s got to be some growth in me -- a new hobby or an impressive set of mind. Or boyfriend, maybe. Boyfriend? And why Zeke’s face pasted on my brain? Uh-oh. I’m feeling dizzy…
to be continued...
to be continued...