Thrill freaks

I've been going to work on the same street for roughly ten years now.

I know some people will pounce on that as proof of how I can be extremely complacent, of how I am incredibly resistant to change. I would agree, but in this case, it's really happenstance. I have worked on the same street for ten years, now, but that's in three different offices. And trust me, sometimes I wonder if my life will be better if I worked in, say, Ayala Avenue rather than San Miguel Avenue, if that change of environment will be enough to trigger some sort of animal instinct in me, make me want to fight harder, or at least a little differently than I do now.

That said, working in the same street for ten years has meant having some sort of view on how things change. Things have moved a lot in the past decade. I mostly notice this in restaurants. You see them come and go, trying to appeal to the college crowd and then fold up. Considering the University of Asia and the Pacific is pretty much in my backyard, that is a tall cry. The students there are rich, right? Their tuition fee is more expensive than La Salle or Ateneo, right? Does that mean they have more exacting tastes? It depends, I guess? I have worked with a bunch of UA&P graduates - fresh graduates, or, perhaps more likely, students in their internships - and they're happy to get down with take-out from KFC while plotting the course for the world, or at least this country, or at least this government. But that sounds a little too Illuminati for me.

For the rest of us, there are those fast food chains. These things tend to not move at all. The McDonald's and Jollibee in the area have stayed where they are, but then again, why would they move? That's why I was puzzled to find out that the KFC here has disappeared. For a couple of months there was a sign outside that said "for store relocation" - but to where? It turns out, just a couple of units down the road - same building, different unit, one with two floors. It replaced, even more surprisingly, a Mang Inasal that was always filled with people. Was it their ventilation problem? I am not sure.

You do notice that there are more convenience stores. Well, you do notice this everywhere. It's in the past decade where this industry exploded, as the big ones made a bid to replace every sari-sari store, and the plucky upstarts made a bid to spoil everything. The geek in me is happy I'm just a walk away to pretty much every major chain in the country, but the novelty quickly wears out and you just go to the nearest one for a quick bite. That's the thing, really. There are enough changes for you to notice, for you to be able to say "back in the day, this thing was there and not that thing", but eventually, you take it for granted, because fundamentally not much has changed. The roads are still the same. The people are still the same. Well, you don't really remember a lot of them, but there are some that do, and only because they really stand out, like that guy in aviator shades who always gives out pamphlets to some, I assume, a get-rich-quick scheme every morning. Except for today, I assume, because it's raining.

It's been a really hot summer. That has changed. I have been walking these streets for almost a decade and I don't remember it being this hot. Sure, I have always complained about how unwalkable the sidewalks are - different surfaces, different heights, too few trees, too many glass surfaces - but it felt like more of a chore these past few months. It's so hot I wish I could take a shower every time I came back from lunch. That, or I could choose to not have lunch at the mall, where there are more choices (and vegetables). The changes there over a decade, by the way - that's a different essay altogether.

This morning, though, it's cool out. The skies are gloomy, the pavement is a bit damp, and the windows at the office are foggy. I'm the first in the office, so I'm the first to turn on the routers and the air conditioning, and it's cold quick. (Colder quicker?) Right now I'm sat across a window, which in the summer would mean incredibly harsh lighting, but today it feels a little mellow. I feel a little mellow. It's a surprise because I've just had an iced coffee because I've only had four hours of sleep. That's one more thing that changed over the decade. It used to be that I can wake up at five and start my journey to work at six. Now I have to wake up a half-hour earlier and leave a half-hour earlier, or, on Mondays, three-quarters of an hour earlier. Me? Journeying at fifteen past five? When it's still dark outside? (Except in the summer, that is.) I guess I do need a new setting. Either I work somewhere closer to home, or I live somewhere closer to work. But then, I can be extremely complacent. People say change is thrilling - but then, thrill freaks tend to have control of the megaphone more.

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