Gee, some things in life are hard to take.
I’m not referring to the thunderstorms that frequent this time of year, keeping me mostly indoors. I’m not speaking about repairing the pressure sensor switch on the deep well water pump. Nor am I talking about getting grass to take root and flourish in a back yard that resembles a huge sandbox (a huge pond during rainy season). A fellow takes care of certain chores – maintaining his property and buildings by giving it his best shot before calling in the professionals.
Those chores, at times, are some of the simple pleasures of life. At least they are for me; I don’t really enjoy washing dishes, sweeping floors, etc. Being successful at just one of those “guy things” makes me feel complete and makes me think my late Father would have been proud and pleased. (Sorry, ladies – it’s a boomer generation guy thing that doesn’t mean to insult or injure anyone.)
No, the things that are hard to take are those things that most Westerners don’t do back in their “old country.” Today, for instance, I was called away from that sensor switch (I know I was just minutes away from success) by my wife Emy. She told me the manicurist was here and I should have a manicure and pedicure.
What’s that? A manicure and pedicure while a sensor switch’s life hangs in the balance? Well, I guess peace in the family is worth about a half hour of fussing over digits. Things could be worse. The manicurist could be fresh out of clear nail polish and could pull a substitute before I’d notice. That sensor switch can wait.
Life in the Philippines is quite different from that in other locales. Here, conveniences like manicures and pedicures are commonplace. So too is being treated like a king by your katulangs (maids). Years of doing certain tasks for yourself makes it difficult to let go and let a katulang do it. Go to the market and pick up some items? Nope – that’s not your job anymore. Do you feel like having a snack? Here comes merienda, freshly prepared for you.
Being retired just adds to it all. I’ve never been a king before; not even a jack or a ten. I’ve worked my way to this third retirement, doing the menial as well as the monumental. Now, when it is supposedly time to rest, I find any number of chairs offered to me for my seating pleasure. When my stomach growls, there’s food on the table and a request for me to take my “rightful” seat at the head of the table.
Royalty and privilege have their cost in duty, largess and responsibility, however. Since returning to the Philippines, I’ve heard three stories of problems among family members, two requests for largess, and one invitation to be a guest speaker at the municipal central elementary school (you just can’t refuse a principal and four teachers when they come to visit). I’m certain there’s more to come as we continue our adventure. I’m just as certain that I will comply.
I can get used to this treatment, however. In very younger years, I found myself ready to lean toward laziness. School material came extremely easily to me, so I’d lazily wait for my classmates to catch up.
I could have surged forward in glory, but I was smart enough to know that skipping a grade (they actually used to do that when I was younger) meant not only more challenging assignments, but also meant that the rest of the new class would catch up sooner – not as much “relaxation” time between questions.
So now, it’s time to relax and let someone else do what needs doing. My job, if any, is that of overseer or kibitzer – making sure that the job is done right. Of course, whichever way it’s done is the right way. Don’t want to embarrass anyone or make him or her lose face. I also provide advice when asked, serve as a Ninong (godparent or sponsor) on occasion; and just try to be an “all-round good guy” to all.
To some degree, Westerners living in the Philippines must make living adjustments. I found it easy to accept change (laziness in my background?). I want to fit in, and certainly do not want to hurt anyone in doing so. I have good friends and plenty of relatives to help me along with my adjustment. Having someone to “mentor” your adjustment is not a bad idea, either.
I’m sure you have good ideas on helping adjustment occur – care to share them?
Now, if I could just get the katulang to repair that darned pressure switch!