The last time I glanced at the mirror, I didn't look anything like this:
Mother of Helping Perps, all right.
Or heaven forbid, this:
|Sweet Charity is a musical, Mutha- T.|
So why is it that in the span of two consecutive days, I have been besieged with entreaties for succor - particularly of the financial kind?
First was a plea for assistance from Chris, one of our grips, who work on a per-project basis. Which means they work irregularly, while bills, as we all know, are as regular as a monthly menstrual flow.
A bloody heavy flow.
Chris caught me on FB and private messaged me, the lack of an Invisible option proving once and for all that Zuckerberg is the devil.
"Ser, hihingi po sana ako ng tulong. Mag-aapply po sana ako sa coffee shop, kailangan ko po sana ng pera pambayad sa mga requirement."
I had given this guy a small loan before, which he has yet to pay back.
"May utang ka pa sa kin, Chris."
"Opo alam ko po yun, pero alanganin po kasi tanggap sa shooting, ser. Kaya mag-aapply na lang po ako uli sa coffee shop. Sige na po, ser, kawawa naman po ang anak ko."
"Wag mo isali anak mo sa usapang ito. Haaay."
"Sige na po, ser, kahit magkano lang po."
"Chris, last time na to, ha? Pasensya na, pero nanggaling na ko sa ganito at pasong-paso na ako sa kalalabasan nito."
"Opo ser, puede pong padala na lang sa Lhuiller o sa LBC?"
"HA?!?!?!? LBCI?I Di ako marunong nyan. Bakit, di mo puede kunin dito yang hinihingi mo?"
"Nasa Malabon pa po kasi ako."
"Problema ko pa ba yan?"
To make a long story short, I acquiesced and agreed to have my maid go and wire him some money. For his coffee shop job application.
"Salamat po, ser. Puede po ba makuha uli number ninyo? Nawala na po celfone ko kasi."
"Wag mo na ako i-text."
The next morning, my redoubtable tech and erstwhile friend and moocher Miguel texts me asking if he could borrow P3k. He'd never asked to borrow money before and the request piqued my curiosity while simultaneously setting off my irritation :
"Can I borrow 3k from you? Subtract it na lang from the next several times you need troubleshooting on your PC."
"Quit your fucking drug use."
"It's for my asthma."
"You have asthma and you smoke. Why is this my problem?"
"Oy, I'm down from one pack a day to one stick a day na. Minsan nga wala pa if I'm not feeling well."
"Blahblahblahblah insulin blahblahblah inhaler blahblah."
"I just handed you 1k yesterday for like, three hours' work. Get a job."
"I am applying for a job."
"And you'll lose it again the way you did the others by making St. Luke's your private Shangri-La right after you become regularized and entitled to healthcare benefits."
"Bukas na yan. You will live till tomorrow, won't you?"
Nothing quite ruins my day when people asking for money is the first thing that greets me in the morning. And proving that it was once again one of those days, right after Miguel's irksome exchange, I get another text.
It was from Ardee, an ex-employee and young unmarried father. Ardee is one of SM's legions of exploited contractuals and, while he's been lucky to have repeated contract renewals, understandably a store clerk's paycheck doesn't go very far. To augment his income as well as to discourage outright handouts, I often help Ardee by casting him as an extra in commercials, whenever possible.
Normally he texts to ask about any upcoming projects. But this time, his query was a little more direct.
You guessed it .
And for exactly the same amount Miguel asked, too.
"Bos, patulong naman po. Naputulan kami ng tubig. Dalawang buwan na kami di nakabayad."
"Ba't pinabayaan ninyo?"
"Inuuna po namin ilaw eh"
"Eh, magkano naman kailangan mo?"
"3k po, bos"
" 3K?!?!? Ba't ang laki ng bill ninyo sa tubig?!? P3k eh dalawang buwan lang kayo paso?!?"
"Sige na po, bos, parang awa niyo na po. Wala na po kasi akong ibang malapitan, eh."
That last line was the clincher, and brought back many memories.
Bad, baaaaaddddd memories.
I exploded the way Yellowstone will one day before wiping out mankind and all its requests for financial assistance once and for all.
"FUCK YOU, that elf, that dwarf, that Dunedain,
that human, and those four midgets you rode in on!"
"Pasensya na po, bos, talaga pong gipit kasi kami at wala na po akong ibang malapitan."
"Ardee, may utang ka pa sa 'king P10k, naaalala mo?"
"Opo, di ko po nakakalimutan yun. Di pa po kasi kami nababayaran nung bumili ng lupa."
"Ang tagal niyo nang binenta yang lupa na yan, baka pinaglololoko lang kayo ng buyer ninyo."
"Pasensya na po bos, sige na po."
"Pano mo ko babayaran kaya dito?"
"Susubukan ko po talagang bayaran kayo, bos. Pasensya na po talaga."
"Paano kayo matututo, Ardee, kung puro pasensya na lang ang kinakain ko? Pasensya na rin, inubos na ni (ex-jowa) ang pasensya ko, eh, lalo na pagdating sa mga bagay na yan."
"Pasensya na po, bos."
Three guesses, folks.
People say I'm "mabait."
People say I'm a generous person.
People don't know what the goddamn hell they're talking about.
Sure, like anyone else, I can be capable of generosity. Hell, I just recently splurged on two consecutive Broadway musicals, for the love of Lloyd-Webber, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and a certain genteel make-up artist called Ayen.
And those weren't for the effin' nosebleeds, either.
But like everyone else, mostly I'm a selfish fucking bastard.
It dawned on me rather late in life that what seem like acts of selflessness can actually be very selfish and self-serving indeed.
Why do people help other people, anyway ? The reasons are as myriad as the reasons people ask for help.
Viva la fundación para mis niños simpaticós !
Some do it because helping makes them feel like they're good, decent people. Some do it out of a sense of obligation, drummed in by religious indoctrination. And some perform good works to improve their social standing and reputation, by being haloed as generous and kind benefactors.
Or pick some other ulterior motive, conscious or not, well-meaning or otherwise.
Thing is, the self-validation we get from helping others is, at the end of the day, selfish.
The "good" feeling we get from helping others is, at the heart of it, selfish.
The expiation of the guilt of not helping is, at its very essence, selfish.
Even though the by-product is, admittedly, helpful to others.
So why do people keep thinking I'll help them out in a pinch?
Because for all the vitriol I spew in the process, I often end up handing over the money, anyway. Grumbling and grudgingly, like the all-day sucker I am. But I hand it over, and that's what frickin' matters, doesn't it?
Because refusing to help the needy - especially when asked - makes me feel fucking guilty, even though I had no hand in the creation of their miseries.
And while I'm not some filthy billionaire, the ugly truth is, there are plenty of people less fortunate than I.
Or you, for that matter.
"Let's face it - who isn't?"
Not to say the rich aren't selfish, themselves; a common misconception. Many people expect the wealthy to be paragons of generosity, but I've known enough millionaires to know that Scrooge isn't just some literary invention.
Then again, there are also miserly paupers.
I don't think it matters how much or how little money people have.
We're all selfish at heart.
Because survival is self-preservation, and nothing can be more selfish than that.
And to cap off La Diá de Caridad, at 10 p.m. I get yet another text - this time from Rico, another ex-employee and, like Ardee, a fellow SM drone.
Rico's endo was yesterday, and his birthday is coming up next week.
"Good evening, sir, musta na po kayo?"
"Mmm Rico ano na"
"Heto sir, endo na po ako. Mag-aapply po sana ako sa iba."
Here it comes.
"Sir, kakapalan ko na po mukha ko, baka puede po makautang pang apply, bayaran ko na lang po pag nakuha ko na bckpay ko kung ok lng po."
"Sir pasangla na lang po pala ng ATM ko, may darating pa naman po yun na bckpay hehe kung ok lang po."
"Ha pano yun?"
"Ahm bale 22busin ko na lng po pag may bckpay na ako."
If I still believed in a god, I'd say he/it helps those who help themselves.
But while waiting for incontrovertible ontological proof of the deity's existence, in the meantime, they text me instead.
El Nuestro Señor de Remedios Y Ayuda Perpetua.
Humans. Wat are you doing? Humans. STAHHHHHP!!!