Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Playing hooky

Playing hooky
The author took two days off from the daily grind to recharge. Instead, it turned out to be a time for reflection and rediscovering the things he used to enjoy.
By Rick Olivares

Aren’t we too old to be playing hooky?

Yes. Of course. One cannot be irresponsible at an older age. Not with the responsibilities that come along.

While talking to a high school classmate recently, he told me how many of our batchmates weren’t all that active considering we’re Jubilarians for this year’s homecoming. The simple truth is people aren’t lacking in their love and support for the school. The demands of life and work just get in the way.

That however, begets the argument that all work and no play makes for a stressful and dull life. A balance must be struck.

I have been working for what seems like forever now. I have always worked in highly stressful environments such as in advertising and public relations so I always made it a point to avail of my leaves.

The other week, I took two days off from work. I made sure that I didn’t leave anything hanging so I couldn’t be bothered at all.

I honestly didn’t plan anything and decided to let the moment dictate what was going to happen. And I remembered an incident from way way back that helped set the tone of my playing “hooky.”

Does anyone remember what they did with their first ever paycheck?

If I did get a check I thought about having it framed. Except that it was put into my account. But as I got off from work, I went to Robinson’s Galleria to buy some groceries for the house and treat myself to a banana split.

As I got off along EDSA as I took the bus to Ortigas, there was a woman carrying her infant child in her arms sitting at the edge of the flyover. The milk of that her baby was drinking didn’t look too good under the scorching sun. I passed her by and went inside the cool confines of the mall but somehow, the image of the mother and her child didn’t leave my mind. I went back out and pushed a hundred peso bill into her hand. “Please use this money wisely,” I whispered to her. This bystander saw me give her money and he blurted out that it was all a scam and the work of crime syndicates and something to that effect. By way of reply, I said that then it’s up to her to whether she will do the right thing or not because not everyone helps out. Besides, she needed the money more than I did.

I did buy my groceries and eat my banana split at the old A&W restaurant at the Robinson’s Galleria. And perhaps as a reward for my helping out, I saw Norman Black, then the coach of San Miguel Beer inside the restaurant, and I got his autograph (that I still have to this day).

As for the rest of my pay? I put kept some in the bank and used the rest for my daily expenses.

With the memory of that past incident clear in my mind, I set off mid-morning during my first day off to reprise that “Good Samaritan” episode of my life. There’s this homeless community that has made the underbelly of the Katipunan flyover their home and I frequently pass by the area since I live nearby. And it never fails to wrench my heart to see people with not much trying to sleep in a harsh and unforgiving area that is exposed to pollution and the elements. I had with me some breakfast and some fruits that I distributed to a few mothers and their children. As is oft the case with handing out foodstuffs, there is never enough and pretty soon, I drew a crowd. I quickly left since I didn’t have much.

But nothing like a feel good moment to start your day right. I used to do this on a daily basis when I was doing freelance work for ABS-CBN. I’d buy snacks for the kids that begged in the area near the MRT station.

Cut back to the Hooky Day 1. From there I went to the tiangge in Greenhills to buy me some shirts for my everyday use. I dad some Persian food for lunch then went off to Robinson’s Galleria to watch “The Expendables” after which I got a nice soothing massage at the spa. When I got home, I walked my dog around the neighborhood and helped my kids with their homework before sitting down to read a book. I have such a huge backlog of books to finish and this was the perfect time to engross myself into it. Before I knew it, it was late but I had turned the last page.

The following day, I did my daddy stuff and picked up my youngest son from school. On the way home, we played some air hockey at the nearby arcade and had some merienda outside.

Time was I enjoyed going out after work. Call me old, call it age, but I would rather go home now and hang out with my kids and watch television for a bit and relax a bit before hunkering down in front of my computer to work on articles or essays like this.

My wallet took a hit in those two days off but the time away brought to mind the old Mastercard commercial about this being a “priceless moment.” I was recharged for the work week and feeling better about myself.

When I told a friend of mine what I did, he hit on the idea about doing it again together. Maybe shoot some pool and go play hoops. Or even go trawling the curio shops of Recto and Quaipo in search of bargains.

Good idea. But I have to see how many leaves I still have left. 

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