Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Scarlet Letters

For months before R-Day, I walked around with scarlet letters virtually seared into my forehead. It's nothing like the “A” – for “Adulteress"-- which the Hawthorne heroine was fire-branded with to flog her for her femme-fatale ways. Rather, mine was an insipid “A” and “R” – for “About to Retire.”*

For a while, “A.R.” defined what I was. AR slowed down my walk, gave pause to my talk.

An example:

Office friend: Hey, have you heard the news?

Me: What?

Friend: The new UP Charter has been approved.

Me: So, what?

Friend: We’re no longer under SSL (Salary Standardization Law)

Me: Oh, wow. Will we get a raise?

Friend: But of course!

Me: Oh, finally, ha? Goodbye, starvation wages. Goodbye … Teka, when will it take effect?

(‘BOINK-TOINK” – the scarlet letters blink.)

Me: Uh-oh. About to retire na nga pala ako.

I got mushy over things. Events were prepositioned with a “last.” My last Christmas in the office. Last lantern parade. Last sunflower season. Last outing. Last ExecCom meeting. Last Christmas bonus/clothing allowance/productivity pay. Last project. Last hurrah.

But then, it made me look at things with a fresher, keener, more thankful eye.

More than ever, I savored the tree-lined campus, the old but trusty building, the lush landscape, the murals on the ground floor atrium, the airy second floor plaza, even my topsy-turvy room.

I relished how fortunate we all were who work there: cubicles for everyone, one computer-one-telephone per person, flexi-time, kitchenettes, and lounging places.

It is here where I found the unbossiest of bosses, freedom to take initiatives and make my own instructive mistakes, opportunities to lecture, write, research, get computer-savvy, train abroad, earn honorarium.

It is where I made fabulous friendships that sometimes teeter under the weight of office intrigues, committed myself to our development mission, fought – and sometimes went into hot water -- for what I believed in.

As I walked about with the blinking virtual letters, I thought it would really be hard to let go.

I didn’t know the office wasn't about to let go, either.

The other day, as I signed a retainer contract prepared by AO Din .....

Clink, plink!

Ooops, there go the scarlet letters.

*An allusion to the classic "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


julie said...

Its hard daw to really get into a pattern or routine after the excitement of retirement dies down. Ayan, you can now start looking at your list of things-to-do when you retire and start a game plan. Thought of course that changed na, with Andeng in the picture :)

myepinoy said...

"That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way." - Doris Lessing

ha ha ha. Might as well sing the song "Hard habit to break" or the latest song by journey with arnel pineda "after all these years"


do all your post-retirement options especially this "Do something you've never dared to do before (e.g., sing in public, drink one too many, go the movie house by your lonesome)"

One thing is sure, life goes on and on and on.

btw, the drink one too many, tubig ba yon, juice, wine,???

lady cess said...

sabi nga ng kanta...
you'll see each other again
don't worry 'cause it's not the end of everything.
you may be miles away
but there is your heart will stay.

raqgold said...

awwws, feeling sentimental din ako while reading your post. i had a lot of those 'my last' memories esp when i left to work in bangkok, tapos when i left to marry in germany, tapos tapos, tapos -- hindi matapos tapos pala kaya i know that kapag may goodbye, there's another hello!

Leah said...

Flashing neo colors ba yun letters? lol

What are you up to this days? Is the project over?

Goodbyes are always hard to do. I'm sure there are many hellos in the line for you.

duke said...

i'm back blogging! :)

exskindiver said...

congrats for the retainer contract!
they really know who to keep forever, don't they?
you are valued.

dimaks said...

kain muna ng madalas sa SC :)

chateau aka imom said...

Good for you then! With so much creativity and wisdom to unleash yet, parang di ka pa talaga dapat mag retire. :)

So I will still get to visit your office and lounge with you in the kitchenette ha, hehe. :)

pining said...

so you're back to the grind huh... you're too precious to let go, hindi kagaya dito, they can't wait to be rid of the soon to be retirees...

Toe said...

I'm also carrying around AR scarlet letters... "About to be Recalled." :) My husband also used to carry around those letters... but like you, Cambodia is not letting him go that easy. He's going to be extended. :(

rowena said...

Hi AM, as I've mentioned in your previous post, that's what we call officially- a Consultant. Nice title huh. My friends used to tease me that I'm the boss "sulsol-tant", he he he...Come to think of its perks, we only need to go in the office once or twice a week, still we get a month's pay. Ok di ba? Cheers to that buddy!

Stat Counter