9/30/2015
Set yourself free

The Lawson's near my office has pretty good sandwiches. I'm not saying this because they have the BreadTalk branding. I'm saying this because even if you know these items are cheap cast-offs - of course you will not find their floss bread there - they're still pretty good. For P39 you get what they call an Asian sandwich - essentially grated carrots, cucumbers (Japanese, they emphasize), a generous smear of liver spread, and a slice of luncheon meat. It doesn't sound glamorous, but it does taste good. And I think the bread's slightly toasted the French way.

I buy one this morning. Despite my wallet-based troubles I still find myself peckish at nine in the morning, and that sandwich does the job - not too filling, but tasty enough. I hold the sandwich bag in my hands - no paper bag; I always ask the convenience stores not to give me a paper bag if I'm buying items I can carry with my hand anyway, never mind it's newly warmed - and walk into the elevator. There isn't much of a queue. There are around seven of us, I think. Or eight. Three of them are Japanese men, walking in noisily and shutting up as soon as they settle in.

I press 19. Someone presses 16. Someone presses 17. Someone presses 18. Damn it. I just want to enjoy my sandwich in peace. At my desk. I know it's not dignified, but it's a sandwich, and the pantry at my office is not exactly a happy place.

But, well, just a little more. The elevator door is closing and I just have to hold on to this bag a little longer.

"Alam mo," one of the women in the elevator starts, gesturing to a colleague. She's in her late 20s, I think. Short, a little pudgy, wearing a faded red shirt.

"Alam mo," she quickly repeated. "Alam mo, tinapon ko na 'yung mga gifts ng ex ko sa'kin."

"Talaga?" her colleague answers.

"Oo," the woman continues. "'Yung kuwintas, 'yung singsing."

Why is she saying this out loud? In public? Not that I mind, but this is the sort of thing you say in a more, err, secluded place. Like the unhappy pantry in an office. And now, here I am, part of an unwilling audience of employees, listening in to what is perhaps a hurting woman's moment of catharsis, proudly retold. Well, save for the three Japanese men.

"Eh 'di ba, kasama ko yung friend ko kagabi?" she continues. "Sinabi niya, 'itapon mo na nga 'yang mga 'yan!' Eh, lasing kami n'un..."

Yep, this sounds perfectly like catharsis. You long intend to do something, but you hold off until the very last minute, and when you do push through with it, you're not completely in control. But then again, some of the best decisions ever made were possibly made with alcohol in one's bloodstream. Not that I would know.

"...so tinanggal ko siya." The woman gestures removing her necklace, and her ring. She's animated. She's obviously excited. "Tapos tinapon ko sa basurahan!"

Her colleague has this unsure grin on her face.

"Paggising ko kanina," the woman continues, "hinanap ko 'yung kuwintas ko. Tinanong ko 'yung friend ko. Sabi niya, 'tinapon mo kagabi, 'di ba?' So hinanap ko sa basurahan. Nandoon."

"Kinuha mo?" her colleague asks.

"Hindi. Eh nasa basurahan na, eh. Marumi na."

The elevator hits my floor, and I step out, still not sure what I exactly heard, nor why I was listening in so intently.

And your responses...

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