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Shift Happens

Chapter 1: The Office

THURSDAY

You’ll notice that when you read a word over and over for more than twenty times minimum you’ll start to see it differently and even get doubts whether that word is spelled correctly. It actually is, but you just got used to it that you get bored and you alienate yourself from it. At least that’s how I felt when I’ve been reading ‘efficient’ in my laptop over and over for more than twenty times minimum during our meeting.

“Well I think this is just a minor issue. What can you say?”

Efficient… Efficient… Efficient…

“Lana,” I snapped out of my trance. “Umm, I think we should just keep an eye on it, uh, I mean if they believe it’s something important you can just trust them to investigate on it, until they get some comfort that it really is just a minor issue.” I gave the safest answer. “It’s just a minor issue, focus on the risky accounts. Let’s be efficient.” our manager instructed the team.

It was 9:18 in the evening when we finished. Three of my closest friends in the office waited for me so we can have dinner together. “Where are we going to eat?” and that, I’ve come to learn, is the hardest question ever thrown. So hard that even though we ask it every time we eat, and I mean every time, we’re still not prepared to answer, “I dunno, you, where do you want to eat?” which technically isn’t an acceptable answer because it throws the same question, but we accept it nevertheless in the vain hope that during that conversation loop maybe the other guys will have a leeway of thinking where they really want to eat.

“My head hurts, it’s like it’s gonna explode any minute, I can’t concentrate during the meeting,” I complained during dinner which by the way we decided to be in the same place we’ve eaten in for the past two days. “The attention span of an average adult is no more than 40 minutes, you were in that meeting for what, three hours? even if you didn’t have a headache you won’t be able to concentrate” that’s Jaime Pablito Suarez for you. He’s from the province, thus the name. We used to call him Jaime but he thinks it’s so last century so he figured we just call him Japs. Japs loves trivia which he got from the Internet because he surfs the e-network often, he’s the techy man which is the complete opposite of his parents. They have a hard time realizing that they’re not living in the Spanish Era any longer, to which Japs mentioned that they keep on ignoring his suggestion to leave their pre-colonial dwelling “That’s why I never bring you guys there, I’m afraid you might break the floorboards just by looking at it.” and we always say that we really didn’t want to visit his house unless he answers the plane, ferry and train rides, that’s how far it is.

“Your head hurts because you overslept, what time did you get to the office?” “11am. Well I overslept ‘coz we stayed late last night, I don’t know how you managed to get up earlier this morning.” I answered Michelle whom I’ve been sharing the same apartment with for four years since we began work here. We met when I came up to her and started talking about books because I saw her reading The Catcher in the Rye during lunch break. I read many books too but nobody can beat Michelle Wurttemburg, her love for books is unparalleled that I think she started reading in the womb while her mom is holding a brochure about how best to make love while pregnant. Michelle is half Filipino, half German, but she’s never seen her father nor been to Germany and looks like a full Filipino except her for surname. Her mother told her that they were secretly married so she has the right to use her father’s name. After that her father secretly left her mother. All these she secretly kept from everybody except us.

“Are you going to eat that brownie?” Connie asked Michelle. “Go ahead, I think I’m full.” Not Cornelia May Crisostomo, nope. Connie never gets full and the only time her mouth gets to rest either from eating or chattering is when she needs to work, sleep or play tennis. Thanks to Major Walter Clopton Wingfield for Tennis, because that’s what keeps Connie’s calorie level bearable, and I say that because though she’s plump, we can still make her reach her knees so I think she’s fine. “You all good?,” asked Connie while chewing. We all nodded and returned to the office.

It’s now 10:02. Connie is discussing something with her staff regarding their fieldwork the next day, Japs is making a report on their recommendations for a manufacturing client while Michelle seems to be constructing an email for her manager. Me, I was observing them for 5 minutes so it was 10:07 when I opened my email and started to work.

“Regards, Lana Monique Orwel” 10:12. I stopped typing and sighed. I guess my attention span shortened from an average adult to a five-year old. It was either that or I’m just tired. So as not to suggest that I had the attention span of a five-year old I decided I was tired, but still I stayed until 11pm. At least I’ve compensated for the 11am, and more.

By the way, I’m an Auditor.

FRIDAY

I woke up early today because we had a meeting at 9am, aside from that I don’t really have anything urgent to do. Some days are busy some days aren’t. Though it’s never really the same for all of us like today Michelle and Connie are still in the office. I decided to go home at around 4pm and waited for ten minutes at the bus stop after which I thought I want to walk instead. Our apartment isn’t really a short walk but since I’m fond of walking, the distance is tolerable. Besides, they let us dress down on Fridays so I’m wearing my comfy black Mary Jane flats.

“Cayman Group is offering a huge discount for flights in three countries of your choice,” when I was able to walk three buildings away from the bus stop this girl handed me a flyer which she gives everyone who’s passing by her. I know CG, they’re a new entrant in the low-cost airline industry and is operating across 5 countries, this must be some marketing plot. As with all the flyers I received, I put them in my bag just because I didn’t want to throw it in front of the flyer-givers, then I went straight home taking note to avoid other flyer-givers along the way.

SATURDAY

7:00am, Snooze and Dismiss.

That’s the first image I saw when I picked up my alarming phone on the bed side table.

Dismiss.

And that’s the last word I saw before sleeping again.

“Lana! wake up! Jeez, it’s one o’clock. We are so late.” I rubbed my eyes and just said to Michelle “I know.”, “Let’s just take out food and eat it in the office, we are so late.”,”Did you mention we were so late?,” I said sarcastically. “I’ll take a bath first.” so I went.

It was already three o’clock when we arrived in the office, take-out lunch and all. We’re not really late in the sense that they do not keep record of time-ins during weekends so we’re free to be in anytime. We’re late because given the stuff we need to do, it would take us until evening to finish them knowing we went in at three o’clock. This one’s on us.

“You guys know what Nomophobia is?,” Japs said out of nowhere, well he does that often. “Fear of numbers?” I guessed “Eenk! it’s the fear of losing your phone or having no signal.” Connie answered from across the table “The heck Japs, you made that up. You know, studies show that people who spend a lot of time on the internet are more likely to be depressed, lonely and mentally unstable.” Michelle and I laughed. “Yeah and studies show that people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen are more likely to have Cornelia as their first names.”, “Whatever. I told you, mentally unstable.” “Anyway Japs, why don’t you just check out the weather next week for our trip? and don’t make ‘working’ an excuse ‘coz you couldn’t possibly be working when you came up with that nomphosomething you told us.” bossed Michelle. “Ugh, fine.”

“Weather’s perfect,” concluded Japs “I’m just so excited! I mean I miss the mountains. Even though I’ve only tried it once, the feeling is just.. I can’t explain it you guys just gotta go and see for yourselves.” I said. “Yeah that’s why we’re going with you right?” replied Japs. “Yeah..” I said to myself, smiling. And the three of them started talking about something that I wasn’t too interested in ‘coz I’m busy thinking about our trip next Friday.

I’ve planned that trip for a week because it’s been two years since I’ve experienced climbing a mountain and it was just breath taking so I wanna do it again. The Philippines has plenty of wondrous sights to see. I remember my trip in the Puerto Prinsesa Underground River, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, and with my awe I promised that I would travel to see more wonders such as this. I just want to get more out of life, to be able to see the beauty of life out there. That became my mission. But for today my mission is to finish this report so I don’t have to go to the office tomorrow.

SUNDAY

I was woken up by my phone ringing. At first I was hesitant to pick it up when I saw the caller ID:

Damian A. Segusto

I answered immediately. “Hello Sir?,”

“Lana, how’s the presentation going?”

“Umm, I actually plan on starting it tomorrow Sir, but I have all the materials I need,”

“Alright. I have to review it by Wednesday, the client called to inform me the CFO can’t make it Tuesday next week so we agreed to have it earlier, he’s only available on Friday.”

“But.. Sir.. I have a scheduled leave on Friday..”

“I know, that’s why I’m calling as early as now, perhaps you can just postpone it? the CFO will be out of the country for a month starting Monday next week and giving the presentation beyond that is just too late.”

“Okay Sir..”

“Thanks Lana. By the way can you give me the date of the last submitted report?,”

“Okay Sir, let me just get the report..” I grabbed my bag and turned it upside down. I was too sleepy and disappointed to scour for the report. “March 14 Sir..”

“Alright. Thanks Lana. Bye”

I thought I felt a lump in my throat and that I was about to cry, but I didn’t. I just stared at the glass of water on my bed side table. Half empty.

After a few minutes of staring contest with the half empty glass of water which I realized I couldn’t defeat, I started to pick up the contents of my bag on the floor. I saw the Cayman Group flyer and I swear to God I was so thankful I didn’t throw it because I had an epiphany.

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