Do a Quickie

    If you are Makati-bound anytime soon and are driving along EDSA, go slow when you reach Cubao. I am sure you won’t miss this huge tarpaulin of a motel, which announces: “Complete your courtship stage here at…”

    Tsk, tsk, how things have changed! The man now says to the woman, “I’ll begin courting you at the comfort of your home and end in comfort in a motel bed.”

    This brings me to word I had wanted to expound on: Quickie. Although I am sure you are familiar with the word, let me talk about a different “quickie.”

    If you’ve visited the malls recently, you may have noticed that customers are no longer treated as kings and queens. When you go to a restaurant, for instance, a grouchy-looking waiter greets you. As you take your place and scour the menu, the waiter beside you gives you a c’mon-make-up-your-mind-fast expression. Impatient, he heaves a sigh of exasperation every time you change your order. (The sigh even comes with a complimentary eyes-on-the-ceiling dramatic scene.) Finally, as your pointing finger continues to travel on the face of the menu, the waiter promptly bends over and asks you this question with polite sarcasm: “Ah, pwede po ba babalikan ko na lang kayo mamaya? Worse, the waiter suddenly vanishes from your sight, making you wonder if you entered a restaurant or a magic show with disappearing acts executed with precision.

    I saw this phenomenon again not too long ago, when my wife, Liza, and I went to this not-so-customer-friendly shoe repair shop to have the soles of our daughter’s shoes changed. (Incidentally, haven’t you wondered why parents in this day and age frequent the mall’s children’s shoes section? Either the shoes nowadays are made of inferior quality or our children are rehearsing to be the future quality control managers of shoe factories.)

    “Miss, pwede pa bang palitan itong suwelas nito?” I asked the lady attendant. She inspected our daughter’s worn-out shoe sole and looked bent on suggesting a tire recapping at Goodyear. Good thing she asked the opinion of the sapatero – let’s just call him Quickie – who just let out a snobbish “Um” for an answer.

    Until now, I am not able to figure out what the “um” really meant, but judging from the way Quickie’s eyebrows clashed on the midsection of his face, it seemed to me that repairing my daughter’s shoes was his most difficult task thus far. Methinks it’s not really the pair of shoes that seemed to be the culprit. The overall disposition of Quickie said it all: head bowed, face grumpy, smile absent, enthusiasm lost. It was clear to me that Quickie, as one song goes, just “works hard for the money.”

    Undaunted, I asked the lady attendant, “Anong oras pwedeng balikan, Miss?”

    “O anong oras daw?” she asked Quickie in turn.

    “8:30,” came Quickie’s grouchy, monosyllabic reply.

    Whoa! Quickie was not mute after all!

    To cut the long story short, Liza and I whiled away our time strolling inside the mall. Before we knew it, it was almost 9:00 pm, and the mall was about to close. So, with long strides, we rushed to claim our daughter’s shoes.

    About a meter from the shoe repair shop, Liza and I noticed that the lady attendant was nowhere in sight. Just Quickie and his cranky countenance.

    “Boss, kukunin namin yung sapatos na pina-repair namin,” Liza huffed.

    Quickie was true to form. He did not look at us, looked at his watch instead, and continued to tie his shoe laces, as if telling us, “It’s almost closing time, you guys, and I’m all ready to go off from work. You better be thankful I waited for you.”

    Without saying a word, he got a plastic bag, popped in the pair of shoes, and handed the item to us.

    “Boss, hindi yan yun supot namin. Kulay pink na Victoria’s Secret paper bag yung sa amin,” Liza pointed out.

    I have long accepted that women have this unique flair for attention to details, are very particular with colors, dates, anniversaries and birthdays, and possess excellent memory recalls that surpass that of elephants. But I figured this was not one of the times those superpowers should be displayed. In front of a grizzly bear aching to get off from work, any supot would do for me. My only objective was to get out of harm’s way.

    Not Liza though. She showed Quickie that she was patient enough to wait until Quickie finds her pink Victoria’s Secret paper bag. Quickie didn’t smile. He rummaged through the many paper bags under the shelf, displaying edginess.

    Boss, ang dami yatang supot ng customers,” I said, as I groped for calming words.

    NR – no response. Quickie docked, turned, and searched everywhere in his cramped space.
    “Boss, tulungan ka kaya naming maghanap,” I volunteered.

    Still, NR. By then, Quickie’s grouchiness was beginning to show, perhaps unable to understand what the fuzz on the pink Victoria’s Secret paper bag was all about.

    Then, all of a sudden, eureka! Liza saw the pink Victoria’s Secret paper bag just behind Quickie! Straightaway, Quickie grabbed the bag and put the shoes inside. Boy, did I see a striking contrast! Liza’s grin went from ear to ear, while Quickie’s poker-face was displayed from the ground floor to the rooftop.

    I was about to leave things at that, but something in me wanted to see a different Quickie. He was just probably bothered by something which made him exude a negative aura. I said to myself: What have I to lose if I show him a random act of kindness? So I made one last-ditch effort.

    “Boss, pwede ka na sigurong magpahinga niyan. Alam ko pagod ka na buong araw.”

    And then… Quickie smiled.

    Heaven, too, I am sure.

    Quote for the week:

    “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

    – Mother Teresa of Calcutta


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