Working Works

The other day, I was having my rather late lunch at a nearby korean-deria, what we fondly call our usual haunts to alleviate the incessant hunger for shabbily cooked food, when I noticed the group of merrymakers next door. I’m barely into my third spoon of rice and yesterday’s lechon kawali, now conveniently recooked into adobo, when a burst of shouts and overall revelry came out of that videoke open-all-day-and-all-night part of the strip. Sipping some nilaga broth, I could tell these guys were singing and boozing since last night. And it was Tuesday 12 noon that I happened to have taken my lunch.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I don’t look down on people. I don’t want to be looked down on, so I try not to be as judgmental. But on a Tuesday, the sun is scorching hot, the usual diners were just trying to ease through their food so that they could go back to their own work fearing the minutes late would take off some amount on their take home pay, but lo and behold, there’s this group of individuals, probably closer to my age than the rest of the diners, are still at it. And judging from the number of bottles on the table (and the case under the table) it has been one long night.

There are stereotypes. People who tell you otherwise are in denial. These guys will probably spend their off day sleeping off the booze and waking up with a banging hangover and their weekly wages spent. And they will be bitching.

We all need some respite. We all need some R&R. But working in the city as long as I have, I learned to limit the debauchery to manageable levels so I can work the next day, barring lack of sleep, hangovers or lack of bus fares.

Working works as long as you work on it.

In my animation days, we literally close down bars with our booze binges. Strip clubs, live bands, we took ’em all in, and we got shitfaced. And the next morning we’ll still be sober and red eyed but working efficiently. These guys, I know the type, believe me, will be looking for someone to borrow money , after getting into some mean arguments with their wives, girlfriends or parents.

And all because they can’t control the real-men-drink attitude.

A cover art study for a short story I’m working on, along with a host of WiPs that need to be done.

After I consumed a serving of rice (at least it was hot) pork adobo (at least it was tastier) and bowls of nilaga broth, I was paying for my food, when a case of unopened pale pilsen came to the table visible to me. I shook my head and added a couple of sticks of Fortune Menthol to my bill. Took a puff while waiting for change, and left the area, my ears still ringing from the usual “Zombie” videoke staple.

I walked back to the office with thoughts of why people bitch about their government, the politicians, the system and the world in general. And look, they can’t even implement a system for themselves where they can have fun and maintain a job. It’s hard work. But it comes with the territory. It will be harder if you are out of work.

I’m employed in the BPO industry. Also I do illustrations. I also Write stories. Some people can’t find jobs because their diplomas and degrees dictate job preferences.

I’m not saying I’m better. But through all the slides and slips, the hard falls and bumps, I have not blamed anybody but myself should I find my ass whupped by life.

So I got back to the office, my current task still need a lot of work, so I get on with it. Thinking I should buy myself a bottle of brandy when this is over.

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Superficial (6) (Fiction)

It’s a tough balance trying to earn a living and maintaining the integrity of your own conviction with the skills and competence. On one hand, there is always the drive to do something creative. Something that will make a lasting impression. A groundbreaking of sorts to seal the relationship with a client and keep them projects coming because they like what you think and how you work. There’s that pride in knowing you have delivered what you promised – a well made, detailed work that met the expectation, probably more.

On the other hand., my financial status as of today is currently on a very pathetic state that I am tempted to accept and just do my workaround with bumps on the road.

Creativity vs. Selling out.

Damn.

Took a hit off of the Pall Mall menthol I carried with me in the bag. The sun was already burning whatever was left on the roofs of establishments in this area. Finally “Pusong Bato” was replaced with an equally despicable amount of noise – perya radio – you know the kind where semi-DJs talk too much, laugh too much and has a playlist limited to 10 songs the whole day.

“So, you gonna do it or not?” Asked Josephine.

I may have disliked her news about the script and all. But, got to admit, the woman is a looker. And I coul look at her neck and strong jaw all day.

” Hnh, I really can’t say. Everything else will be better if you have the script”. I tried to sound not too irritated. Because  I was stating the obvious and her firm must have thought of it but proceeded without the script hoping to move along.

She took a deep pull and let out a rather sensuous clump of  smoke.  “Name your price. I’m sure we could agree on the terms. Provided you can deliver. Will you do it for how much?” She asked again.

And there was silence as smoke wafted and swirled between us. Jeepneys were making a ruckus with its own music competing with the perya station. People seem to have shunned the sunlight as there are fewer pedestrians abound.  She waited gracefully for an answer, while looking hot and out of place. Her bag ridiculously big and lumpy. I was holding the papers and stuff she showed me, and it felt like I was losing my chance to have a decent meal on my table tonight, and my girls in the country side would be well fed and taken care of for the rest of the month.

Sweat rolled down my nose and dropped on my upper lip, tasting the salt ib it. I spit. Almost noon, and here I am debating between going hungry and earning enough to get more work.

“Will you do it for how much? Name your price you come with good recommendations”.” She asked again.

A 12-string Zeny Bandilla acoustic guitar with removable pickups and a set of GHT 12-string set would do just fine as fee, I thought. Or a box set of Lord of The Rings books with The Sillmarillion added would be very good indeed, I mused.

But I shouldn’t accept this job because it’s full of holes and it won’t hold water and I have been working such crappy deals with people who never say what they mean and would slit my throat just to make it look like it’s my fault they have no foresight of production problems that will come up again and again like rats you can’t get rid out of your house , and they never listen to my recommendations and suggestions, just enough nods to go on their way and maybe look intelligent for pointing oit revisions and No WeDon’t Know What We Want So Just Be Fucking Creative And Do Something We Can Shoot Down.

Ah. But I can’t say that. Instead I answered, in a rather clenched fist, eyes squinted shut tone ” 60% down-payment, 40% after completion, I’d do the storyboard for 8 working days. The Rate is 15K.”

I just sold my soul to the devil.

If I had one.

(To Be Continued)

Superficial (5) (Fiction)

I hate it when people use this phrase like they know anything about “thinking out of the box”. It’s the same everywhere with job interviewers, accountants, HR personnel, and worse, marketing people. Think out of the box  also means We Don’t Know What We Want So Just Create Something We Can Shoot Down. And how can they use these words when they themselves cannot accept unorthodox methods?  People who follow procedure to the letter and protocol without question, suggesting to think out of the box? That’s insane! It’s like some Segment Producer asking me to illustrate simulation drawings, but they wanted it 3D looking, so I said why not give it to a 3D Artist, and they replied, well, we botched our relationship with our 3D Artist (which means he never got paid right, never got paid on time) so we want to go out of the box with this one and make 2D like you do with crime reports.

Duh.

I could only surmise what the 3D artist had in mind. I saw what he did to the last segment.

Think out of the box, my butt.

Magazine advertisers often use these same words, but then insists you put all the photos in, even if it will look like some scrapbook any teenager can do. And on a half-page ad. Well, I wanted to do it like this. No, we are paying you to do what we want.

Well, what do you want?

We don’t know yet, So Just Create Something We Can Shoot Down.

Out of the box, my butt.

And here I am thinking this gig could be one big pain in the butt should I decide to accept it. Free food aside, and the fact that I think this woman is really hot, at least to my eyes, I am gritting my teeth for what I dread I was about to hear, if I ask the right question.

And I need to ask the right question.

This is supposed to be a storyboard gig, right?

I need to ask the right question. As Josephine spreads the photos of the products and the statistical studies of height calculations and width to tensile strength and all that . . . .

I asked ” Where’s the script?”.

And, it’s as if someone detonated a sonic charge somewhere.  All sound muted, time slowed down, I could see tiny spit drops flying from her glossy lips, her eyes fixed on mine, and her palms open, and she utters the words . . .

Wait for it . . .

“No script.” Josephine, dismissing my question like it was nonsensical. ” Not yet at least, but here are the materials needed for this scene, the truck to be used and the number of people involved.”

How long is this TVC? How many scenes? How do you want the shots?  How much time do I have to do this? And I have so many questions, because a script could have shut me up and just read the darned thing.

She said “Think out of the box. You’re an artist, right?”

I should slap her right then and there. But mom says never hit a woman. Even if Josephine turned out to be somebody who looks like a female version of me, and that is a horrible vision, still there is no cause to hit a woman.

But, crap, I need this gig to get me through. And this has all the signs of a shitty project. This is like being asked to do layout for a web design with just an idea, no name, no content, just make stuff up as I go along (which I did recently, much to my chagrin, with an inept manager who’s only talent is he can do his own make up and who thinks like We Don’t Know What We Want So Just Create Something We Can Shoot Down.

I can feel that headache coming like a locomotive.

I need to think this over.

With caffeine and nicotine.

“Could we step outside and smoke first? I could use some.”  I stood, so I could think of ways to workaround this predicament.

“Sure.” She said.

I think that locomotive is coming full speed now.

(To be continued)