30 December 2010

The Last Minute Rush

The thing about thinking up what seems to be a good idea is that when everybody else thinks the same thing, you all invariably end up doing it all at the same time. Sort of – like – when everybody else thinks why don’t I let the rain pass before I hit the road, when the rain does stop you hit the road to find everyone else struggling to navigate through a horrendous traffic jam.

That was exactly what happened to me just a while back. This being the last day of the year, and since I had precious little left in the fridge, I was thinking to my self why don’t I go to the supermarket even before the rest of the mall is opened to the public. A friend was here last night and told me he had been to SM which was an ocean of last-minute shoppers. I did not want to end up standing in long queues so I was at the supermarket inside Robinson’s Place at half past nine.

On any other day, one finds sleepy shoppers lazily pushing carts along the aisles of the supermarket at this time of the day. Well, apparently not just a few people had exactly the same idea as I did and my eyebrows shot straight up as I walked towards the supermarket to find the hordes busily pushing their carts and the long queues at the cashiers’ tables.

I had a good night’s sleep so I was in a good state of humor. Even in a brief mid-morning supermarket sortie, and even if things did not go as I had hoped, I knew there would be anecdotes happening that I was thinking I could write about as I floated from shelf to shelf.

At the fish stall, there was this stressed out looking nanay who wore a frown on her face as she inspected the neatly laid out fishes. The fact that the toddler clutching her jeans was acting up seemed to be adding to her stress. To quiet down the toddler, she nodded in my direction and said to the boy, “Hala sigue! ‘Pag ‘di ka tumigil, ilalagay ka ng mamâ sa plastic!”

Ah-ah, I was thinking to myself as I gave the shameless nanay the one-eyebrow-raised glare. Ginawâ pa akong panakot sa batâ… I was half-thinking of asking her when the last time was that she looked at the mirror, because – or so I crossly thought – she looked a lot more frightening than I ever would. But she was already walking away, dragging the batang nag-iinarte with her…

So I returned my attention to the fish stall, finding a tanigue tail crying out to be purchased. Susme! What is it about tanigue tails that I always get suckered into buying? “Paki-timbang,” I said to the lad behind the counter. “467 Sir!” he told me when done. I lamely nodded before I could change my mind. Tsk! Bagong Taon naman…

Later near the liquor section, a female security guard greeted me, “Happy New Year Sir!” I was momentarily taken aback; but, of course, the staff must have been briefed to be particularly cordial to customers today. “Happy New Year!” I greeted her back politely.

I thought that was the last of the encounter. But as I picked up a few cans of beer to keep as stock in the fridge, I heard her say in a friendly tone, “Lasing si Sir mamayâ!” I looked around. There was nobody else by the beer shelves. She was talking to me!

“Hindî naman,” I replied. “Pang-stock lang.” Like I had to explain; and yah, like I am the sort who becomes Spiderman after a mere few cans of beer. Yah know, the sort who holds on to the wall to be able to walk...

Surprisingly, despite the increasing number of people entering the supermarket, I did not spend a particularly long time at the cashier’s table. There were just a couple of other people ahead of me. There must have been a lot more people earlier, though; the cashier was already looking harried and it was just ten in the morning.

She even forgot to say, “Good morning!” So I took the initiative and greeted her. She greeted me back shyly, probably mentally kicking herself for forgetting protocol.

I walked the short distance afterwards to the drugstore for some vitamins. There was a couple ahead of me asking the sales clerk how much something cost. I was patiently waiting my turn when something wrapped its arms around my leg. I looked down to find what must have been a two-year old boy holding onto my leg.

Before I could cheekily tell him I had absolutely nothing to do with him, the boy looked up, saw a complete stranger, and ran off to wrap his arms around the leg of the man ahead of me. The look on the boy’s face amused me no end! I was wearing shorts; his father wore denim jeans.

On my way out of the mall, I met a colleague who looked like he had just gotten out of bed. His hair was unkempt; and his eyes were still slightly swollen from sleep. “Naligô ka na?” I kidded him. “Hindî pa pô,” he replied, but quick as ever threw the joke back at me. “Kayo pô?”

I laughed as I walked away. The mall was really starting to fill up with people and I was feeling happy with myself for having gotten away with what I needed without being overly encumbered by the last minute rush.

The Tail
A Mundane Pleasure in Life




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