Saturday, November 7, 2009

A (Late) First Anniversary Celebration

Chronicle of a Doomed Career

Five-thirtyish, Oct. 3, 2008

Loitering at Ayala Mall since I've blown most of my week's allowance on chocolate and gummy candy. Money's such a big issue for me nowadays---must be because I'm always short on it. I've even had to stop blogging since I don't have money to spare for Internet. Wait---I actually do, but dammit I'm always hungry!

So there.

Oh wait, forgot to tell y'all about my job-hunting escapades here in Cebu. So let me recall . . .

Job 1: Online tutor at Company A

Woo-hoo! The first company that called me up after I was rejected by Company X (but, then again, I was not totally rejected---details to follow). Though teaching is the farthest thing from my mind right now, I decided to jump in since I was desperate to find a job. And it didn't hurt that company A was offering to train prospective hirees for P100 a day, which I could really use.

Job 2: Aspiring copy editor, then editorial assistant, then field reporter at Company B

So Company B was the second company that called me up; might I add, this was while I had already begun training at Company A. But then, realizing that I could still work at Company A part-time after I devote myself to Company B full-time (how ambitious and utterly, utterly naive of me), I decided to come to the interview.

A week after, I am in the newsroom of Company B. It is 1:00-ish p.m., and currently it seems I am the only one, apart from the day desk editor (my immediate superior for the time being) and the floor manager, inside the office---the reason for this being that work in a newsroom usually begins in the midafternoon, and continues well into late evening, until the day's issue is readied for printing around 12 or 1:00 a.m.

The first few days I am writing the day's scoops: "exclusives" carried by Newspaper A and B that weren't covered by our newspaper, and vice versa. It is boring, backbreaking work; backbreaking since I spend most of the hours hunched over page over page of the day's news and encoding scoops onto the PC. I figured the task was just some redundant, irrelevant task the editor conjured to get me to read as much news as I can.

On the second night, sensing that I was just like a deadweight around the office, the editor in chief told me that I would be accompanying one of the beat reporters the next day. So I was like, "Wow, how generous. They're actually letting me witness a day in the life of a beat reporter." I know, I know; up until that moment, I was still imagining I was on a field trip.

So day 1 of my field trip arrives, and I am asked to show up at the Cebu City Mayor's office for his daily press conference. Imagine that! To sit just an arm's length away from a distinguished public official. Again, my "field trip" state of mind kicked in, and mentally I was "ooh"-ing and "aah"-ing to be sitting in the company of media practitioners.

Later, I didn't expect that I was going to be asked to write a news story on the goings-on of what I attended.

Sojourn #2, Day 1: Council Session

Another round of of oohs and aahs from me. Men in barongs and suits milling about the . . . the room (I'm tempted to call it an auditorium, since the right term evades me right now)! And then, a vision---a handsome man clad in a gray suit. Hair slicked back, matching gray (or was that maroon) tie, the regulation leather briefcase, trademark politico's smile---passes before my line of sight. And I think: Is this possible? Could such a young and fresh and grudgingly attractive specimen be actually a pawn in the dirty world of politics??

Sigh, he truly was a sight for sore eyes. And well, the minutes, and the hours, of the session whizzed by while I was sighing---and pining---for the honorable Mr. X in the snazzy gray suit.

Later I received the second shock of the day when I was told that I was again to write another story on the session's hot topic.

Me: Oh sh*t. Never mind, at least I saw "him" (pines wistfully, in the fashion of women in cheesy romance paperbacks).

Day 3

Again, the mayor's press conference. Only this timeI wasn't late since I discovered there was an elevator that would take me to the eighth floor. I actually dressed up better this time. Imagine my disappointment when I was told the council only convenes for a session once a week. Hmp.

So I got to write another news story. And for a few fleeting moments, I actually think---and believe---that I can hack it as a news reporter.

Then I discover that I cannot come up to random people and ask for their reactions without breaking into cold sweat. And I realize that, unless I get rid of this character flaw, this job will never be a walk in the park (thunderbolt follows).

Day 4

I actually don't remember what I did this day. Must be because I was still reeling from the experience of calling up various political personalities (and being invariably tongue-tied) the other night. I guess I must have just spent the day languoring in the newsroom, trying to appear productive while I write little notes in my reporter's notebook ("Ma'am, I regret to inform you that I don't want to work for this company anymore. I've developed an ulcer in just a matter of days, my father's had a heart attack after learning that I go home at ten or eleven in the evening," etc.).

Day 5:
Assignment 1: Media conference on "Autologous Blood Stem Cell Transplant"

Fancy that. Nightmares of my early BS Biology days coming to haunt me all over again. The nth day in a row that I came late to an event I was supposed to cover (only this time, I must point out that I didn't resort to hailing a cab---brownie points for me!).

After wiping out images of blood and tumors and exposed nerves from my mind, I have lunch courtesy of the media conference.

Assignment 2: First day in the Hall of Justice

The catacombs, I call it. Pristine white on the outside; dark, dank, crumbling, and moldy on the inside. I walk past walls composed of pile after pile of court decisions, promulgations, appeals, wherefores, whereases, forsooth!---wait, that was from Shakespeare. And all the doors look alike. I swear, if I wasn't in the company of the justice/court beat reporter, I would have been lost for hours inside that labyrinth.

The senior beat reporter hands me a copy of the promulgation for a rape case, and that's my story for tomorrow's issue.

Day 6: Leadership Training Seminar

Now this day would have been uneventful, if it weren't for the fact that I saw Honorable Gentleman in the Snazzy Gray Suit (HGITSGS) sitting by the registration area. Serious heart palpitations ensue, and I am reduced to a giggling, bashful, blushing mess. Sh*t.

Once again, this day struck me as another "me feeling extremely inept" day. And again I am reminded of why I hated my Newswriting class in college: I absolutely dreadtalking to strangers. And so, for the next few hours, I prayed: "Lord, give me the strength. Lord, give me the strength. Lord, give me the strength."

Fortunately, in an extremely fortuitous turn of events, I am introduced to the Honorable Gentleman in the Snazzy Gray Suit (only this time, he was in a barong, dark blue-black denims, and sneakers---so hip and respectable at the same time!). I fall all over myself trying to recall the questions I was rehearsing the past few hours, tyring to appear like I am thoughtfully and dutifully taking down his statement, all the while I am relishing the fact that his face is just a foot away from mine---and wait! he leans closer 'cause I am so effing nervous and my tongue is tripping all over the place and he probably can't make sense of the babble tumbling out of my mouth, and in my mind I am calculating the odds that a man from the echelons of Cebu's high society with a flourishing political career can actually deign to consider falling in love with a troll. So while he is waxing grandly on the youth's potential to lead Cebu City to progress, my heart is gradually deflating.

Nevertheless, I spend the remainder of the afternoon stealing quick glances at HGITSGS, trying to burn his image in my mind since I'm too timid to take his picture. Hah. Plus, I was thinking this might be the last I'll see him---just in case my not-so-promising newswriting career doesn't pan out.

Day 7

I spend this day asking myself, "What am I doing in the office on a Sunday? I seriously need to quit."

Father arrives from Davao, and is shocked to learn that I go home late in the evenings---in a habal-habal­, no less. He then delivers a sermon on the evils of my profession. To get him to stop, I tell him that I don't enjoy it anyway, and that I'm planning to quit. I ain't bluffing, though, as I have gradually been building myself up for a "talk" with the editor in chief.

Day 8: Media Conference on the New Wide World of Media

Meanwhile, I am gradually losing steam. Again, I come late to another appointed event and manage to get lost despite already having taken a cab. Events are seriously conspiring against me and this career. I've already made up my mind that this will be my last day.

I spend the rest of the afternoon listing and trying to finish my story before I come to the newsroom. I enter the newsroom. I hand in my story. The day desk editor tells me to cover another exhibit at six thirty; I say nothing. I go kick myself in the head afterward. I come to the event. I talk to some snarky reporters from another national broadsheet. I curse them for being so snarky and haughty and treating this half-assed pseudo-reporter like scum.

Day 9

There is no steam left to lose anymore. I receive another message to cover yet another effing photo exhibit, and I ignore it.

It is Papa's last day in Cebu, and I spend it with him shopping. And while I am at the mall, I am constantly in fear that one of the people from the newsroom will catch me playing hooky. But I couldn't care less. At this point, I have dug myself a pit of work-related depression, and there's no getting out.

I go to the office. (But wait! Before I do , I think I spot HGITSGS walking to his car; in fact, as I walk past him, I think I heard him say, "Hello"---but wait, that's another story. Well, actually, because of the pre-"talk" nerves, I didn't look back, so there's actually no story. Fug.) Ed in chief already senses what I'm going to say. Surprisingly, she takes the news pretty well---and here I was, thinking she would berate me for being so fickle and indecisive and noncommitant and dismiss me by saying, "Get the hell out of my newsroom!" She gives me some soothing words, and sends me off with "I'll be seeing you,"---or "See you soon," something like that.

And I am like, "Gee, I hope not."

As I walk out the newsroom, I give myself my nth kick in the head.

But then I think of the many Sundays---holy rest days---I'd be spending at the office had I not quit sooner, and as soon as I do, I take that kick in the head back, and I jump, click my heels together, and say, "Woo-hoo! Free at last!"


So I return full-time to Job #1. I complete the two weeks, and then some, of training. A month and a half later, we're still not through training, and I'm not receiving any paycheck either. Meanwhile, I live on extended alms from my mother. It's an embarrassing way to live, I know.

Fortunately, a few weeks later I receive a call from Company X, asking me if I'm still interested in the position I applied for last June. I was going to make them feel guilty for demanding I come to Cebu ASAP for an interview then holding my application three friggin' months---meanwhile leaving me to fend for myself in this cold, heartless city. Out in the streets, homeless, hungry . . . Okay, I was going for dramatics. I lived in a half-finished home with the rest of my siblings and while I did not eat heartily, I did not go hungry due to their charity. Anyway, I swallow my pride and say, "Yes." Twice, in rapid succession.

My job offer's in three days. But I'm hopeful this'll be a keeper.

Weeell, so far so good.