Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

We Interrupt our Regular Programming.

There will be no short story, vignette, or poem today, in direct consequence of the incredibly, abysmally, monumentally suck-ass day I had yesterday. Instead, let me tell you aalll about it.

First, the setup: Last Friday, my laptop simply refused to charge its battery. Nuh-uh, it informed me, smugly flashing its “critical battery” light, won’t do it, shan’t do it, ain’t gonna, you can’t make me do it. “Can so,” I retorted, and promptly hauled it off to the warranty-covered service shop in Makati. Where they told me that all they needed to do was tighten some connections and recalibrate the battery, and I could pick the laptop up by Monday. And all would be well, and all would be well, and all manner of things would be well.

You would think I’d have known better, wouldn’t you?

So, fine, Monday rolls around; and I don’t have cash to actually pay a cab to take me to Makati, so I cross the street to Robinson’s Galleria, where they have an ExpressNet ATM in the deepest, darkest bowels of the building. Unfortunately, my journey to the center of the Earth reveals that said ATM is offline. “No big,” think I, for my auditor friend K8 recently enlightened me that BPI cards can also function in BancNet and even some MegaLink machines. Which are handily available on either side of the ExpressNet machine; only they spit my ATM card out as if it has been coated in a noxious sheen of ampalaya extract.

“Still no big,” I think optimistically, “for there is a BPI Family Bank but a stone’s throw from Galleria, and surely the ATM at the bank itself will be functional.” Oh, me, of too much faith. I leave the overcrowded and malfunctioning bank with a burgeoning hatred of all devices electronic.

I decide to go to Megamall, where one of the plethora of ATMs will surely resolve my monetary dilemma. Now Megamall, from Galleria, sits perfectly on the cusp of too far to walk comfortably and too near to justify cab fare. Since I was strapped for cash in the first place, I decide to hoof it; and arrive at the ATM vestibule, glowing lightly from the heat and humidity, only to be told that my ATM card has been reported lost or stolen.

So then I have to go to my actual bank; where, having definitively demonstrated that I am in fact me, I’m told by the clerks that someone probably misreported the account number of their own lost/stolen card. All they need to do is revalidate my PIN, they tell me; and proceed to do so. Minutes later, the nearest ATM happily accepts my card, but then solemnly informs me that “only inquiries are allowed”, since my PIN has just been revalidated.

I fight my way back to the bank counter, where I calmly, rationally, and even sweetly explain to the staff at large that I will disembowel them all if I do not get some cash. In my hand. Right. Now. (If you cannot imagine how this is done, then you’ve never seen me in action.) They hasten to oblige; and by three-ish, I am finally in a cab en route to Makati.

Just past the Guadalupe bridge, however (and therefore only within the boundaries of Makati in the most technical sense), said cab is plowed into by an SUV. Which staves in the passenger-side front door, which of course is about six inches in front of my knees. I slam my forehead against the window, but it doesn’t hurt because (a) I have very high pain tolerance, and (b) I am too busy expanding my circle of hatred to include all machines with inorganic moving parts. I step out of the car, eyeing my watch with suspicion and loathing.

Now in some other countries, the presence of a policeman at the scene of an accident is greeted with words like, “Thank goodness there’s a cop here!” In the Philippines, however, we say, “Oh crap, a cop. This is gonna take a thousand years, and probably a couple thousand bucks as well.” So then I have to participate in a lovely question-and-answer session in which I barely understand what said cop is asking; which is fair, because he barely understands what I’m replying. Still, it was not my cab driver’s fault; but everyone is acting as if it is because, well, he’s a cab driver, and the other guy is rich enough to own an SUV. I therefore stick around a bit and struggle womanfully to say “reckless swerving” in Tagalog.

Another taxi and much linguistic agony later, I am finally near the laptop service center, but out of cigarettes. The female cigarette vendor on the sidewalk takes one look at my empty laptop bag and quotes the astronomical price of 45 bucks for a pack of Marlboro Reds. “As if!” think I to myself, and march into the nearby 7-11 to get my nicotine supply there instead. Except that they’re clean out of my brand, so that I have to slink back to the manang and pay her damn gouging rate… only to cross the street and find a Mini-Stop just around the corner, with a Marlboro sign winking encouragingly from the shop window.

At this point, it is becoming easier to mentally enumerate the things I don’t hate, since they are rapidly becoming outnumbered by the many things I would cheerfully incinerate.

To top the day off perfectly, my laptop has now been repaired so that it charges up obediently, but will not load Windows. So whereas, last Friday, I couldn’t use it if it was unplugged, now I just can’t use it, period. And the tech guy tries to tell me that it’s a fault of my software and therefore not covered by my warranty. So I go ballistic—in my calm, rational, sweet way, which gets me a service unit to use while they try to figure out exactly how they managed to fuck up my primary means of making a living.

And oh, yes, heading home, I tell my latest cab driver to drop me off at the San Miguel Avenue side of Robinson’s Galleria, which is where my condo is. Exhausted, I fall asleep and wake up, naturally, on the EDSA side of Galleria. I thus have to drag myself through the irritatingly crowded mall, hating the overall fact of existence in general.

I finally get home. I am greeted by my concerned husband and jubilant daughter… and I realize that, if there are days when I just can’t seem to win, at the very least, I can never entirely lose.

Check out the rest of the posse!

Nikki bit in at 2:53 PM :: ::
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