During high school days, I , along with some close friends, mostly classmates, would spend time loafing around on street corners, marketplaces, church plazas, billiard halls, malls, gambling dens and planning on some mischief—-from engaging in chess tournament which is of course above board to running away with the merchandise of known local smugglers in the area. There were a lot of delinquencies in between. These were all products of our loose and juvenile disposition. Time was aplenty since most of us would cut class if only to be a “tambay.” And we liked it that way.
I was on my way to become a gangster!
However, years and several parental scolding later, I found myself dedicated to school work. Fear of being booted out from the house compelled me, along with close friends to take the high road of scholarship. And true to the mandate of the academe, I was trained to observe discipline. To be prompt, honest, industrious and fearful of superiors. Aside from the fact that I became a fetish for directions, I was also proficient in following orders. School prepared me to be a workhorse. After a few job hunting venture, I was eventually conscripted.
Work, work, work became a mantra for decades. I have forgotten the good old days near the neighborhood store having fun with fellow tambays. Gone were those situations when relaxation was the order of day. I even seconded my family because of the responsibilities heaped on me. Work introduced stress and for quite some time, I was someone virtually swimming in the ocean of tension and anxiety. I could take note of how my fellow workers would find themselves in hospitals confined for ulcer, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney trouble, liver ailment, mental disturbance, whathaveyou—-all of these are work induced sickness. I was lucky I had none of the symptoms.
Meanwhile, on the street where I left for decades, I would find my old partners still bantering around, still hale and healthy, although a bit emaciated because they are jobless in the first place. Their means, their livelihood come occasionally and far apart. They have no career to speak of but they are surviving just the same.
Years of hard work and confronting thousands of intrigues, scheming, conspiracies, treacheries later, and dodging threats, terrors and dangers, finally my time in the organization is up. I will be retiring and will be freed from the requirements of the organization. I will be returning to my community of orientation, like a released prisoner. I will be able to join my old peers. I must be prepared to take all the brick brats and share with them the pains, some successes, failures, frustrations and some victories along the way. It was like jumping overboard a ship and after years of drifting in the waters, getting saved still and if interrogated, to share the adventure to the shipmates.
Just like Odysseus, after years getting lost and finding himself back to his turf, it was a mixture of emotions. Or probably, it was more of the feeling of the Biblical prodigal son going home for good.
On the whole, it was back to the zone of unemployment. It was “buhay tambay” once again. The process has gone full circle and it was a very heartening journey.