The accidental observer

21 10 2010

WE’VE BEEN planning – more like “hoping” – to travel as a complete family before the year ends.  It was one of those ideas that was casually thrown during a birthday dinner.  It has been hovering in my mind since.  And everytime an impetus of an action, thought, or word accesses that thought in the deepest recesses of my head, my fear that I won’t make it to the trip is reinforced.  Because I know all too well as to when my current passport is going to expire.

Being told time and again just how the process has changed has never failed to make me put off personally appearing at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to get what a friend calls as ‘access to the world’.  But last Saturday, I finally did.  Actually, it was more like “I finally HAD TO.”

Hours spent at DFA, I have to tell TheCorporateTeener – just like the time it takes to order my “Chai Tea Latte, served over ice.  Easy on the milk.  Heavy on the strong tea.  I want it strong.  Venti.” – is, or could be, a social experiment on its own.

1.   Lines will forever be long.  My appointment was at 8:00 AM.  I arrived before 7:00 AM and the line had already snaked ‘round the bend.

2.   There will always be someone who has the intestinal fortitude and the epidermis of a pachyderm to cut through the line.  These I cannot stand and will not tolerate.  Last Saturday, I engaged two of them in the following exchange,

“Teka, saan ka nanggaling?”  (“Wait, where did you come from?“)

The pachyderm attempts to explain.

“No, I’ve been here way before seven and I have never seen you.”

The pachyderm attempts to explain, yet again.

“No!  Do you see that?!  That’s the end of the line.  That’s where you belong.”

The pachyderm leaves.  But not before first attempting to scare me with a lingering look.

3.   Unfortunately, some people in the government service seem to accord more respect to those who speak to them in English.  They provide overly sycophantic assistance to these people.  So last Saturday, I intentionally spoke only in Tagalog.  Fortunately, the lady in charge of the implementation of the “Queuing Theory” was truly a woman of convivial nature and accorded all of us with equal importance.  So, kudos to her.

4.   Probably truly cognizant of my own observation at #3, one lady seated at the row behind me was deliberately talking loudly on her cellphone – at broadcast level.  She had way better broadcast than NBN4, RPN9, and IBC13 combined!  It was okay at first because she wasn’t directly behind me and somehow, the signal that was her voice attenuated by the time it reached my ears.  But the moment the line had moved, putting her directly behind me, I looked back at her, squinted my eyes and let my dagger look do all the talking.

“Do you think your loud voice and fake American accent belie the fact that you are toting a fake Louis Vuitton, wearing fake Chanel sunglasses and checking the time on your fake Technomarine?!”

I tried my darned best to keep my peace but her boisterous “Oh, I really have to give you my card!!!” caused me to snap.  That, and the fact that I felt sorry that some of those in line were obviously in awe of what simply was a Gluthathione-enhanced creature in our midst.

5.   To show up for their passport, people would come either in their Sunday best – I saw a couple in suit-and-tie ensembles – or in just shorts, shirt, and flip-flops.  Extremes.  Almost nothing in between.

6.   After I was done, I realized that Justin “The Hair Flip” Beiber will have a hard time securing a Philippine passport (like he’ll want to!).  You see, the biometrics-and-image-capture specialist spent a lot of time on me, initially rejecting me upfront just because my long hair was already touching my eyebrows and covering my ears.

Gosh, please don’t make me come back another time!

At this point, I had to do the sad puppy face and plead that there must be something that could be done.  Two supervisors combing their fingers through my bangs and sideburns and one computer operator with exceptional dexterity at clicking the mouse solved the problem.  After all their combined efforts, I just couldn’t give the thumbs down to the photo they had captured eventhough I wasn’t fully satisfied with how I looked.  At least, I had complied to government requirements.  And now, any database can pick me out from millions of records based on biometrics!

7.   Of course, with all the waiting, I had so much time in my hands to kill.  And I couldn’t help but “people-“ and “wristwatch-watch”.  My favorite was this young Filipino-Chinese couple and their newborn, who while obviously garbed in the tangible trappings of wealth and success, conducted themselves in the best of behavior and with consideration for others.

Falling in line properly, speaking in hushed tones, politely asking for directions.

White Adidas quick-dry shirt, brown Nike checkered walking shorts, Nike running shoes.  Panerai wristwatch.

All-white ensemble.  Brown knitted cardigan.  Longchamp Le Pliage bag.  ToyWatch chronograph.

Graco stroller.  Bebe Chic diaper bag.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

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2 responses

21 10 2010
Alexis

I love how even the baby had a fashion commentary!

Hairband was definitely on my list of things to bring when I went to the DFA. I knew it was part of the rules on the biometrics. I looked like an 80’s working girl poster child, but it was just for a passport, anyway!

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10 11 2010
melai

i love the pachyderm term! pwede bang hiramin? hehehe.. and i definitely love this >> “Do you think your loud voice and fake American accent belie the fact that you are toting a fake Louis Vuitton, wearing fake Chanel sunglasses and checking the time on your fake Technomarine?!” I labettt!

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