Novum

The faint round lights thrown back by the tiled floor could have made an interesting subject for a photo. I could have extended my feet forward to include them together with the reflected lights and that could have created a perspective. Actually, I sort of did. But of course, as my camera announced its first click, people turned their heads to me and the lady guard rushed to restrain me from taking photos inside the shop.

I squinted to see her full image. She looked like she’s on her thirties, and she had this gentle aura, the one mothers wear when they care for their children. But she was a real big lady and I didn’t want to mess with someone who brandishes a gun. I apologized and kept the camera back to its bag.

The monitor above the counter flashed 1008, meaning they are currently serving the customer with the ticket number 1008. I was 1015. As I sat waiting for my number to be called, I realized that I could have argued with her because:

1) Lady guards in UP dorms revealed that guards are not allowed to fire their guns ever.
2) No one would fire his gun to a bored customer.
3) I could use some mindless entertainment as I waited.

I could tell her that there were no signs prohibiting me from taking photos, and I could have taken her own candid picture just to spite her even more. But that was just a thought. That’s being mean to someone who only does her job.

1009.

I took a novel out of my bag; it was “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell. It was my second time to read it and I decided to finish the last twenty pages. The monitor flashed 1010 but  no one approached the counter so the receptionist flashed 1011 immediately. Phew. Four more to go. It was a little disappointing because the Customer Service counter had four tables but they were quite undermanned given that only one table was currently being used.

I was finally done with the novel after half an hour, but customer 1011 was still sitting on the chair. Fortunately, another employee arrived and number 1012 was flashed to the screen. It was already 11:00AM and my stomach grumbled because I forgot to eat breakfast. I silently glanced at the person seated next to me. He didn’t seem to notice the grumbling noise for he was so still, with eyes fixated to a book that seemed like a “How to Speak Korean” record. The old woman to my right was listening to music with her earphones.

Luckily, I brought two other books with me: “Happy Endings” and “The King of Nothing To Do” both written by Luis Katigbak. I scanned the anthology, “Happy Endings” to look for stories I haven’t read yet.

1013. At last, 1011 was done with her business.

I made an attempt to read but my mind was out there in the cosmos already, and I thought that it would be unfair to Luis Katigbak if I’d continue reading because my mind was already filled with sundry of things, so I closed the book.

Boredom. Tsk. I almost settled to using my camera again when my eyes caught my broken earphones inside the bag. It’s a good pair of earphones because it could also work as earplugs. I suddenly thought of an idea. I put them on and watched some people talking outside. Inside my head, I created an alternative dialogue between them.

Kid: Dad! Mom said, I am adopted.
Dad: No, you’re not.
Kid: But why would she say that?
Dad: Because she’s adopted and she is jealous of you.

Then the kid laughed and hugged the man so I snickered because the dialogue did not make any sense. 1014, the monitor flashed, yet no one stood up. After a few seconds, it read 1015 and I thanked the gods of waiting. Finally.

I told the receptionist about the problem with my internet modem. She checked my payment history and saw that there weren’t problems with it. The kind woman said that she’d have the modem checked by the technician, so I handed it to her. I waited for what seemed like another thirty minutes then the technician approached me.

Technician: Sir, since this is still covered by the warranty, you can leave it for now and we’ll have it fixed.
Me: Oh, so it is broken.
T: Yes sir. Its light doesn’t even show.
M: I’m sure its light was blinking when I used it this morning.
T: We’ll just check it, sir.
M: So how long would it take? (I thought it would only take hours)
T: Two to three weeks, sir.

And that’s what sent my nostrils flaring. Almost a month? And I will be paying for the internet I won’t have for the next two to three weeks? What is it, a car or something? Even laptop technicians repair computers for just a week. And my modem IS even smaller than my palm–so what was in it that needed two to three weeks of fixing? I was too transparent that I wasn’t able to hide my embarrassment, and it was too obvious that the technician was getting nervous. But since it was a Sunday, and things should not go wrong on a Sunday, I composed myself and asked nicely. He answered that he couldn’t do anything about it, so I yielded. They’re the experts.

The lady went back to me and gave me forms to fill-out. As I was signing the forms, the technician went back to me and declared that my modem was working. Apparently, their computer’s USB port wasn’t activated yet when they tried it on. I stared at them with a stern look on my face and asked, “So what is happening? What do you plan to do now?” I did not want to appear obnoxious, but it was already 12:15PM and I still had things to do. They whispered to each other and apologized for their mistake. I nodded as a gesture of acceptance. The technician instructed me things I may do in case the same problem transpires again, then gave me the shop’s landline number so I may call them for inquiries. Even though I wanted to demand retribution for my lost time, I just thanked the two with a smile. The lady guard was busy mopping the floor. They really are undermanned.

As I trod my way out, I turned to give the other waiting customers a final glance. The man was still reading the How-To book, and the woman in earphones still sat there. The others looked the same as when I left them. They were so quiet and immobile that at the back of my head, I thought they were human cut-outs waiting for the closing hour.

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