(by Rolando Jun Lontok on Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 11:27pm)
The day started frantically.
Lacking sleep due to our attendance in the previous night’s (Good Friday) celebration of the ‘veneration of the cross’, both Alice and I woke up late. I managed to start the vehicle 10 minutes before official office hours, wondering how the heck I would navigate the morning’s rush hour traffic from our place to the office. To top it off, while trying to drive a little faster than usual on a supposed ‘special day’, we were forced to stop momentarily on the roadside when Alice’s phone started ringing and both of us realizing it was in her bag at the back of the SUV. Thinking it probably was her boss, I fought the urge of just continuing to drive and don’t mind the ringing phone. I learned long ago not to mess with the commander-in-chief, especially in the morning of the first day of the week. Anyway, thanks for a ‘slow’ morning - unusual for a Saturday in this part of the world - we were able to reach the office just in time.
After reaching the office, the phones started ringing... both my office landline and my mobile. And they kept ringing. Again, unusual for a Saturday morning.
There was a call from the central QA Department from the Ministry, requesting for another visit in preparation for our organizational audit which will happen in three weeks’ time. Another call from the ISO consultant, still trying to dangle that juicy contract from the management. Still another came from the Administration Department, telling me the driver’s ready to bring the documents needed by the Audit Team. This last call suddenly made me realize that I needed to print some more documents, pack all the CDs being requested, and put them in a special packaging I bought the day before, which I realized I left in my car! Fuming silently, I went back to the parking area. 39 degrees of an early summer didn’t help, and I started breaking sweat even before it’s 8:00am.
The initial salvo subsided. And so I thought...
The boss called, asking for a report on what happened about the work I did overtime during the weekend. I told him everything’s completed and already sent to the auditing team, and that I was just finalizing the program for the meeting to be held tomorrow, including the presentation needed for that event. While at it, the ADAFA started calling... once, twice... I thought he called four or five times, asking for the status of this and that project, requesting me to send him copies of this and that proposal/quotation. Why is this happening today, of all days?
Anyway (again), everything’s finally completed and done in the afternoon, and I finally got the chance to check on the LMS for the current postgraduate courses I’m attending, and also managed to upload some new posts there. Moreover, I was able to read several pages from the textbook of one of the courses in preparation for my forthcoming exam. I also successfully downloaded the papers I requested for the essay I am planning to write.
And then, it’s again time to go home. (One thing I really, really like about working in the Middle East, is that, however hard you work on a particular day, at the end of the 7th hour, you have to pack your things and rest.)
At home, I tried to read more of the required readings, but dozed off instead. I just thought, well, I’ll give the kids the day off, and just continue with their homeschool tomorrow. It is afterall Black Saturday today.
I woke up about 8:00pm. After five years in this region, I already acquired the local habit of dozing off in the afternoon and getting active again afterwards, until midnight. The first hour after waking up is usually reserved for FBing, and this day is not an exception. Today being my birthday, I did not bother cooking dinner for the family, Alice had that covered today.
I still tried to cover several pages of that pesky required readings.
And then it’s time to sleep again... I realized, due to the chaos of the day, that I forgot to say my daily prayers in the morning, the ones I normally do after reaching my office. I made it a point not to forget that tomorrow. Missing that twice in a row would be unacceptable (not for me, but for HIm).
While looking at the man in the mirror just before going to bed (just immediately after writing this piece), I could see that beyond the dark rings in his eyes, the long, salt and pepper hair (I don’t know for the life of me why I chose to wear it long , especially now that the temperature is starting to rise. Mid-life crisis? Hmmm), and the chaos of his normal work and family life, there is serenity and peace within.
I am happy.