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wilfrido david
wilfrido david DESPITE THE great strides made in modern technology, particularly in telecommunications, don't you sometimes wish that the telephone (along with its modern version, the cellphone) was never invented? No doubt it has its advantages (or disadvantages, depending on how you look at it). The wife being able to track your whereabouts via your cell phone, and vice versa, is only one of them. Another is the kids reporting to you about what's happening in school or at the party they are at to tell if they will be late coming home. And so on. Without the telephone and cellphone, we might as well be living in the dark ages.

Indeed, the phone is an absolute necessity in the modern world. I was just pondering on what if they had cellphones during the time when Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, was incarcerated prior to his execution. This could be the scenario: With his cellphone ringing all day, he is answering calls from his contemporaries invariably bidding him farewell, encouraging him to hold on as he anticipates a reprieve from Spain, or just wishing him good luck, expressing their concern that if only he did not engage in politics, he might have been spared from imprisonment and from the inevitable fate that lay ahead for him. Some influential friends may even suggest that they might be able to work something out if the "price is right" or if he will just confess that he is a radical working against the interest of Spain. But still, he will not hear of it. He is determined to be a hero. In utter exasperation, he might throw his cellphone on the floor and smash it with his shoe—cursing under his breath that if only the cellphone had not been invented, he can spend a peaceful last day on earth.

*

Peace is exactly what I'm driving at here. The kind of peace that we need after a hard day's night, or at least that we want to get out of some leisurely catnap or siesta or just plain "beauty sleep" that everyone is supposed to be entitled to—sleep that re-energizes, rejuvenates, that is recuperative and reinvigorating, or however you might want to describe it, as long as you get it, because you feel or you know that you owe it to yourself in order to be a functioning human being.

But no! It is not as simple as it sounds. Just as anything else that we plan to do, there is no guarantee that it achieves the end result as we see it in our minds.

Worst scene scenario: You try to get much-needed sleep, in your bedroom, in the eerie silence you are accustomed to. Just as you drift into Neverland, after counting a thousand sheep jumping in your head, and while you are just about to fall in a snoring mode, with your body temperature going down and your blood pressure at just the ideal rate---THE PHONE RINGS! You try to ignore it, hoping that it will stop ringing soon so you can try to get back back to where you were. But no such luck---exhausting all the nasty four-letter words in your vocubulary won't help any. You just can't go back to catching sleep!

Anyway, here are some of the automatic messages you might likely hear from the other end:

"You have just won a free vacation for two on a Carribean cruise. To claim your tickets, you must call this number ..."

"We can help reduce your credit card debt through our time-tested solution. Reduce your monthly payments in lowering your interest rates by consolidating your debt to one low monthly payment scheme ..."

"Do you owe money to, or have you been hounded by the IRS? Our group of tax experts can make your life easier, because we deal with the IRS directly ..."

"The warranty on your vehicle is about to expire. (How do they know?) If you transfer your coverage to us (name of company), you won't ever have to worry about major repairs because we will take care of everything. (Oh, yeah?) Call this toll-free number to talk to one of our experts ..."

"You are pre-approved for a Visa card, starting with a credit line of $5,000.00 with an interest rate of 12% PA. Call this number and speak with one of our representatives ..."

"The government's economic stimulus program is offering low-interest loans to those who qualify (but of course). You can speak to our representatives at this number ..."

"Hello, sir? Is this the head of the household. I am from the Deputy Sherrif's Office. Do you support your local sherrif's candidacy? We are raising funds towards his election. If you can pledge a one-time contribution in the amount $25, $50, or $75, we will be dropping by to pick up your check at a time convenient for you. Thank you in advance for your support ..."

The next one beats them all.

It's 3:00 o'clock AM, just as I am deader than a doornail in deep heavenly sleep, I am jolted by the sound of my bedside phone ringing like a fire alarm. I pick it up half-consciously, assuming that it might be a call from my boss asking me to cover for someone who called in sick. Instead it's an accented female voice: "Hello, sir? This is a followup call on your long-distance plan to the Philippines. You only have a few minutes left, so will you please reload before you are cut off completely?" I try to be civil about it and hold my patience and say, "Do you know what time it is in America? It's 3 o'clock in the morning, and I don't get up until seven. Am I not supposed to be the one to ask for a reload, not you soliciting in this ungodly hour? Next time, take the trouble of converting our difference in time zones and refrain from using your chat time in favor of more useful tasks other than calling clients to reload!! You guessed it—I canceled my subscription to "Tawag Na Travel Card." (I purposely mentioned the company name to get even.)

I thought that was the end of it, and was I wrong. Another girl called while I was in the middle of eating my lunch (at least they learned their lesson about time zones) and offered me a new cellphone, with camera, for a price much lesser than the ones obtainable here. I told her, with irritation showing in my voice, that I didn't need another cellphone because I already had one that worked just fine. And she asked, "Do you still have family in Manila? I am offering you to take advantage of our new rates..." I could feel my blood pressure rising. I said that I already canceled my subscription and that I communicated with family back home via Yahoo!Messenger, with webcam, which is free and allows people to see each other face-to-face. "But, sir, this new phone is really something. In fact, I got one myself ...!" (As if that made a difference.)

Now she really got my goat. I asked for the manager, as I sensed that she was doing this on her own (to meet the sales quota?). I insisted and threatened to report this practice to the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Advocates, Inc.

Finally, an effeminate voice on the line: "Yes, sir, what can I help you about?" I said, "Managalog na lang tayo, para madali!" I was not about to exercise phone etiquette at such an inopportune time. I told him in no uncertain terms that he should give his people proper training as regards selling airtime, and to consider respecting the difference in time—that if it's morning in the Philippines, it's either late night or very early morning in America, and that they had no business reminding customers about reloads as if they were mandatory.

These are just a few examples of what makes your blood pressure rise—when you want to make good use of your free time by resting, because you might have been working the graveyard or even a double shift. Or, you simply wish for peace and quiet.

I still have my cellphone and I still maintain my landline. I found a way to handle the overwhelming situation—and so now I am more relaxed. I simply move to another room away from the telephone, shut the door, and put on soothing music on my earphones, but still with the cellphone nearby (after all, you cannot miss important calls, moreso one much-anticipated at that.)

Excuse me a moment—my phone is ringing. Thank God I am fully awake.


[About the author. Wilfrido David first retired as Computer-Analyst from the Ayala Group of Companies. He immigrated to the US in 1985, worked there for another 25 years in the Medical Field (Medical Lab Tech), until he retired for the second time. Sometime ago, he was involved with FAANM (Filipino-American Association of New Mexico) as correspondent-contributor-writer-editor, publisher—all rolled into one. He says about that stint, "I ran out of energy, patience, and money but kept on with my duties until the next set of association officers were voted in." The earliest writing he did was for his high school paper in Holy Angel University. His present writing derives from the perspective of a Filipino expat in the US who faithfully keeps up with what's happening in the home country, as gleaned from his Filipino channels on DirecTV, aside from CNN and HLN.]

-Posted: 11:13 AM 10/26/09 | More of this author on eK!
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