Go And Tell Yourselves That

First of all, things would not have come to this sort of venting online if anyone of you in the high management had learned to talk. Well, of course you talk a lot, just not the words people need to hear. Want and need has very different meanings, I assumed since you are in the industry of publishing books.

Not just books, mind you, but values books. Literature that is aimed specifically at teaching children the meaning of the word, nestled neatly among others such as honor, understanding, humility, rationality, spirituality and being assertive. All of which are very commendable indeed.

Oh, the pep speeches were even better, how you won’t stand for mediocrity, how you expect people to share the same enthusiasm as you have shown. How “we are all family inside the office” really can get that “one-for-the-team” spirit roaring to get things done.

The issue is not the money, if it was, I could have asked for a bigger pay, very much like , my previous work, but you told me  you are a startup company, and I love underdogs. I love drawing. I love illustration. I brought my own laptop because the office has a shortage of computers to work on. The promised light box was not built so I made makeshift light boxes out of cardboard and glass to save the company on expenses. heck i even volunteered to do your AVP and training module videos, if you people had only taken the time to appreciate the fact that most of these things that I have done and offer are mostly premium services that would cost an arm and a leg. But I love underdogs, and I believed everything  you said. And often I put my work at the forefront, cancelling my trip home to the countryside just to troubleshoot problem spots in production. I thought If I take care of this, the work will take care of my family.

Or so I thought, darn gullible me.

They look professional enough though. Even won an award for these values books. Tall talkers and big spenders when it comes to dining clients and book launchings. Even provides food for employees.

But the delays and the seemingly inconsiderate manner you have treated people is what’s bothering me.  If salaries are to be delayed, would the rational, decent thing to do is to tell the employees that it will be? No, we waited and waited  only to be told “today is not payday, maybe tomorrow, okay?” . And the only time we spoke of any contract was during my interview. Up until the last day I finally got fed up, no one came to me, no sms, no email was sent informing me of my contract. The accounting is so lousy, I cringe every time the pay gets there on time, and errors are evident.

I was fool enough accepting that last folder of illustration as freelance. Again, I thought, well why not? But you evade the issue of that signed NDA copies that never came my way.  The late issuing of the folder was a red flag I dismissed. Until I finished the whole project and like a broken record – no one is asking me that the balance is ready if I’m finished with the drawings. Because that was the agreement.

I keep repeating  I need the copy of the NDA I signed, but if fell on deaf ears. I numerous times asked for a re-accounting of my salary when I was still a regular employee without a contract. Before hand I even moved from Novaliches, from which I was beginning to love, and found a  vacant room for rent here in Mandaluyong , so that I can be at work quickly.

Well, I swallowed my pride recently, because I left friends in your office that was tied to that balance payment. I had to accept it without the NDA I was asking for, so that the guys can make do of the unpaid debts.

and the most bothersome is the late reply, after all the emails and text I’ve sent, which I never forget to mention I need that copy of the NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT I signed days before I even managed to remind them that I haven’t received the stories to be illustrated, this letter I got was so pissed off at letting down my conviction of not accepting the balance payment without the NDA, because my friends are in financial trouble, same as me. The letter was so . . .condescending, that I feel I need to include it here:

Capture

Again, that NDA issue was evaded, very cunningly, although I have been mentioning it. You probably know by now, since I sound like a broken record already.

How can you teach values, when valuable people get undervalued by your mismanagement? Writers got tired of it all much earlier. Some are staying for fear of not finding another job. Those computers never got bought, even though it was badly needed. And worst of all, you don’t have a Creative Director, nor a direction. You just hired a semi-creative wannabe as an editor, who if you have half the brain to discern, has taken production way back there since he came in. face it, you don’t have a system, and when artists get angry, you blame him for being unreasonable.

It’s your problem now. Good luck with the rest of the illustrations and writing you need for it. I’m tired of gritting my teeth. I blame myself for getting sucked in to your idea of production.

Superficial (Fiction)

Oh, let me rephrase that last statement.

I may have bought myself another one way ticket to creative hell.

It’s like that.

As I ponder on how to go about working around the lack of script, reading the instructions while inside a jeepney that’s booming with a rather clunky old Pioneer sound sytem, which was playing that super-extended version of Mary J. Blige’s Family Affair, I struggle to keep the papers I’m holding with the sudden stops and acceleration usually associated with jeepney drivers obsessed with anyone standing on the sidewalk even if he’d just seen that person come down from the one before him.

The cash felt good in my pocket. I could send the rest to my family in the countryside and keep just enough to feed my face for a couple of weeks. Think about the rent later. And the installment for that motorcycle that I haven’t ridden yet.

I stuff the papers back to its folder and envelope, with an idea on how to start with sketching the backgrounds and do some research on the net. Good thing I can load that plugit for 5 days. Even with the intermittent connection, it is still a viable tool for lots and lots of references.

And Game of Thrones.

I alighted, nearly missing my step as the driver hurried to get out of the no unloading zone. Didn’t bother me though, I was thinking of poses and angles and detailing the sketches I was about to start when I get home. Crossing the the street, I was reminded of  Josephine. How her hands felt soft as she handed me the money. How she smiled that semi-sincere smile, that drop of sweat nearly got me staring as it rolled down her cleavage.

I shuddered. Have to repress that hardon that was growing.

I stopped, debating whether to ride another gruesome jeepney home or stop by the market and get some real food. That chicken and pasta was the first real meal I’ve had for days. Somehow, the idea of tearing a pack of instant ramen doesn’t get me all stoked now.  So I walked, lighting another cigarette. Yeah, nasty habit. But I don’t encourage it. Not one bit. Leave me alone with my poisons. And no I don’t believe Vapes will make things a little better. A slow stroll down a crowded street, puffing along.

Ordered some rice and a serving of bulalo, topped with garlic and chili paste. Sent the rest of the money home to the countryside.

Money in my pocket feels good.

Bought some packs of smokes, coffee, creamer and sugar to sustain me in my solitary confinement for the rest of the days that will take to finish this project and get paid.

Simple, don’t you think?

I got to stop deluding myself.

This is creative hell.

I will do what I can with this project, pour my soul in it. Creating something beautiful out if thin air. Well maybe not entirely, because all of  it will be on paper. Still, clients, and employers for that matter are seldom, really, seldom mindful of your craft. it’s like buying meals at a fast food chain all over again. They line up at the counter pay for it and expect to get results in a manner of minutes. It is like that. They don’t want to know what happens in the kitchen. They are very much like vegetarians who see carnivores as a lower form of life form on Earth and they are the chosen ones to lord it over. But they need the proteins. So they ask the carnivores to get it for them. And it goes in circles.

The project gets done. You inform them, because the clients are just too busy to do follow ups on you, that you need to tell them “Hey! it’s done!” and they give you all sorts of bullshit. That copy of Non-Disclosure agreement you signed never did get to you. You ask about it, and no one answers. Now expectations of getting paid becomes blurry, because you’ve dealt with people like these before, and yet you accept this project because you have to earn outside of an establishment that for all intents and purposes , has the facade of order and functionality, but in al reality is full of inept people with official sounding titles and bosses who give that pep talk about teamwork and “one-for-the-team” speeches, how the boss is “one-with-you”, how “mediocrity-is-not-an-option”  all the while they have in their employ a couple of semi-creative minds that all the skill they have is shooting down ideas and creations they themselves have no capacity of doing, and artists like you end up as just hired clerks, doing things over and over. A step forward gets you two steps backward, and you get fed up with the delayed pay, and the unnatural ways of following  poorly thought decisions from bosses. So you get out and go freelance and what do you get?

Same sort of bullshit.

There’s Pasyon being sung somewhere near as I open the gate to my landlord’s house and I climb the steps to my room. I know Josephine was flirting with me. It’s a woman’s weapon that any man is susceptible., even priests. I know she’s just doing her job as an agent for her publisher boss. She got the project practically cheap. I accepted it cheap.

Because I’m a slut. There was an internet meme that says:

A Slut is a woman with the morals of a man.”

As I sit on my table now, still thinking about all the drawing I have to do, and how it’ll be another cat and mouse with the rest of the payment, I sharpen a pencil, took a fresh sheet of paper, adn started sketching.

What else can I do?

All the talk about creativity and talent and skill? None of it matters. It all boils down to the money. Forget how I think ” Finally I meet a boss whom I can follow  through and through.” Forget about everything.

It’s all about the money now.

And I am in hell already.

As I draw a form of a face, I keep thinking, ” Will this ever . . . .”

(END)

Superficial (3) (Fiction)

Made it to the other side of  the road without any trouble.

Ah, Metro Manila. I wonder why people with boring lives tend to look for adventure and thrills, spending money for trips and accommodation just to go bungee jumping, white water rafting or swimming. Just get out of your apartment and what an adventure it would be. Good thing this meeting is happening on daylight.

I shudder at the thought of going out at night. Used to feel all invulnerable and immortal, going out. drinking and painting the town red. I’m not particularly tall, but built like a barrel. Years of getting beat up as a kid made me tough on the streets. But nowadays, you can’t be too sure. That red paint could be my blood splattered on the pavement.

But anyway, such morbid thoughts on a day like this when a chance to earn is at hand.  I stopped at a corner, lit up a cigarette and scouted the place for coffee.

9:45am, still enough time for one.

Took out my white Kata S10 and typed a message that I’m already in the area. I’m prompt this way. Sms does it for me. and email. But calls are something I avoid receiving , or giving in fact. If you have had the chance to work for Pocketbell in the nineties, you’d know. Talk about having your ears fall off from answering too many calls.

Got myself a rather flat tasting coffee at a nearby fast food chain. And went out again to light have another smoke.

Nasty combination. Caffeine and nicotine.

A steady flow of students chattering pass by me. People who are hurrying to someplace they’d rather not be. You can see it from the pinched expression on heir faces. Looks of disgust and disappointment, and the looming possibility if being late. I smiled a bit. At least I am the master of my own time.

If only I could earn as much from this.

Almost time.

Mr. Joseph should be arriving soon.

Then something occurred.

Actually, three things happened in this one setting.

A box filled with clothes and stuff came hurtling from above me, maybe several floors up. It hit the taxi below who have just taken a fare and was idling to look for another passenger. The cardboard box gave on the roof of the taxi and garments of ghastly colors and knickknacks flew everywhere. Something like a mug found its way into a bystanders forehead, shorts and underwear scattered like dry leaves. A shoe hit a woman on the back of her head, just as she was slamming the door and was walking away.

All happened in a span about 9 seconds or so . . .

A strange tableau of non-coordinated colors and ungraceful choreography. With a rather silly soundtrack playing somewhere near, maybe from one of those watering holes with a videoke machine, a steady stream of “Pusong Bato”.

Now I’m no hero.

But I caught that woman who was stumbling towards me, and managed to get a hold of her before  she hit the gutter with the dried up vomit. Not much of a rescue. I hurt my knee on the sidewalk, her bag hit me in the face as her hands struggled to grasp anything that would break her apparent embarassing tumble. Her sundress caught on her pumps, and we sit there for a moment like lovers in a Sharon-Gabby movie, but in a comical fashion.

It was at this moment that I noticed my own bag was tangled with the rest of the stuff she was encumbered with – her own bag, a manila folder,  and that stereotypical kikay kit females are fond of holding in their hand when it could be safe inside their own shoulder bag.

I helped her up, but not without any trouble. Her dress was torn a bit from having been caught in her suspiciously lethal spikes for heels. Also, to add insult to injury, her elbows hit me on the chin while she fumbles to fix herself , and I took a step back to catch my breath.

About 35 to 38 years old. Long hair in a bun, now a bit loose. Good neck and shoulders showing on her sundress with spaghetti straps hanging snug, smooth brown skin. Good teeth.

Darn. My own teeth are falling off one by one.

You alright. miss . . . . ?

Josephine. Call me Josephine. And thanks.

(To be continued)

She picked up her fly shades.