HAVEN’T you noticed that as you grow older, you tend to become more circumspect with your use of words? Unlike, say, 20 or 30 years ago, you now weigh your thoughts more carefully before firing away a line or two that mirror exactly how you feel.
Sometimes, perhaps as a way of reserving your energies for bigger, worthier battles ahead, you don’t say anything at all. Silence can indeed be golden, especially when you’re faced with trivial matters and mildly disagreeable people that are beyond your control.
Instead of getting needlessly stressed out, you merely shrug your shoulders or break into an empty smile before resuming your business. After almost having seen and experienced it all, I guess you’ve come to a point in your life when there’s very little in this world that could surprise or ruffle you.
Short and sweet
And if you do encounter a person or situation that sucks, you’re now more capable of instantly coming up with a short and sweet statement that’s often loaded with meaning. Loaded, of course, is an arguable word. What might be loaded to you may be neutral to the other person.
To illustrate my point, let me cite two recent examples that happened to me, and how I handled them.
I took a long-haul flight from Hong Kong to Chicago a few weeks ago seated in the middle of two other men in the emergency exit row of the plane’s economy class.
Since I’m tall and in need of more legroom, I personally requested the event’s organizer to book me in advance in the said row. I got my wish even if the organizer had to pay extra to accommodate my fairly reasonable request. Thank you very much, Leanna.
While the Aussie (judging from his accent) to my right kept to himself, the American to my left had other ideas. Since the flight wasn’t full, there were a number of vacant seats in our section of the plane.
Yankee, you’re out of line
Yank talking to me: “There are a few vacant seats behind us. Perhaps, you’d like to transfer.”
Me, while looking at the empty seats: “I’m okay where I am. Thank you.”
What was wrong with this situation? Not only were the vacant seats he was pointing to located in the cramped section of economy class (read: rows with less legroom), every row was occupied by at least two persons. In other words, in a cramped row consisting of three seats, only one seat was empty.
Apart from giving up the extra legroom of my more expensive emergency exit row seat should I transfer, I would be making the lives of two people more miserable by being sandwiched between them in a cramped row of the plane. So, what was the incentive for me to move?
What was I really thinking, but managed to restrain myself from saying to the American? “Okay ka lang? (Are you sure you’re in your right mind?) You even have the nerve to make such a suggestion. If you find those empty seats so attractive, why don’t you transfer?”
After our initial exchange, I never bothered to engage him in small talk. Instead, I entertained myself with one inflight movie after another until our plane landed at O’Hare Airport. Such a prick ain’t worth the time of day (or night depending on the time zone).
Even on terra firma
Days later, while on terra firma, I encountered another episode that required me to exercise some tact mixed with a few strong words via text messaging.
First, a backgrounder of how this person, a Filipino working for one of the biggest homegrown companies with a national (it seems present in nearly every major town and city) and international presence, has been pestering me for a number of years now by unwittingly calling or sending me empty texts even while I’m abroad or in the middle of the night.
How do I know her calls weren’t for me? Instead of hearing from her every time I answer them, I only hear background noises. I’d like to believe she wasn’t doing it on purpose. She was just either careless or just plain stupid not to know how to lock her keypad.
Since my name starts with an A, I assume that my number ultimately gets pressed whenever contents in her bag shifted. But no matter how you cut it, it was inexcusable.
Anyway, after laying dormant for a couple of weeks, she (or her phone, to be more exact) was at it again sending me more than a dozen empty texts while I was spending a quiet weekend with family in Texas.
Since those damn texts were costing me, I had to text her about the matter for the first time to tell her once and for all to cease and desist. Even Job has his limits.
Me: “Hi XXXX, could you please lock your keypad. You’ve been unwittingly sending me empty texts and calls. I’m abroad, and your empty SMS is costing me. Thanks!”
Woman with loose brain, er, keypad: “So sori. Have locked it na (already). My apologres”
I thought that was the end of it, but seconds after she made her “apologres,” an empty text still managed to sneak through. Oh, Mary, mother of God!
Then two days later, during my last day in Fort Worth, I started getting calls from her. Instead of picking up, I simply declined to take them. If her calls were urgent, she would have texted me to pick up. No such texts came.
Miscalls and empty texts
Receiving miscalls once or twice was fine, but six times within a span of three minutes, and days after making an appeal for her to lock her keypad? It was too much! Benign neglect would no longer suffice. This time, I had to give her a piece of my mind.
Me: “Hi XXXX! I’m in the US. You’ve been calling me for the nth time. It has become irritating. Do you need anything? Judging from your history of calling me repeatedly during ungodly hours and sending me empty texts, I guess there’s nothing I can do for you. But you can do me a big favor by locking your keypad. How hard could that be? Please examine your recent call history so you would know what I’m talking about. Thanks!”
In fairness to her, she again expressed her “apologres.” But if I thought I was being bitchy, I was mistaken. I clearly met my match. And what could be more counterproductive than arguing with a certified bitch? Arguing with one who was one step short of being off her rocker.
Woman with unlocked keypad: “Sorry but m traveling 2 n when I leave my phone open u r first on d directory so may have been pressed. Wil just erase ur no”
Alfred, you’re next!
Me: “Okay. Thanks!”
Not only did she not address the issue, she virtually insulted me with her last line. Well, if it’s any consolation, I’m now free from her and her stupid ways.
What did I really want to tell her as my parting shot? “Great! Good riddance. But I pity the person whose name immediately comes after mine.”
I’m glad I didn’t. She’s not worth all that aggravation. But Alfred, Alice, Aljur, Allan, or whoever you are, be prepared to get non-calls and empty texts in the dead of night from this strange woman.