The Grey Chronicles

2009.January.12

Grumpy, Not So Young Man


Through each day in December and the New Year, I noticed that I have become a grumpy young man. Never knowing what to do each day after GSPI closed its gates to all its employees, except for some meager days of actually setting one’s foot inside the plant.

Each day the time is seemingly much longer . . . glued to the idiot box listening to news of a gloomy New Year ahead of us. Although, I reached halfway through my grandmother’s age when she died at 90, I sensed that being out of work at this time and age takes its toll.

I was never this bitter, critical or pessimistic when NSC closed shop back in 1999. Yes, I was 36 then, with a wife and two sons; but NSC’s employment afforded me and my family a comfortable life back then. I had a sizable savings to tide the family over; plus the fact that the Liquidator promised to at least give our retrenchment pay during our lifetime; and I still had the patience of part-time teaching college students to become future electrical engineers such as myself. Unfortunately, although the retrenchment was paid fully by 2004; it was done through 16 installments, which the bulk of each installment was only used to repay debts! I have nothing to show for it either! Maybe I squandered it all to non-essentials . . . like food on the table; and shelter for my family?

Now nine years later almost to the day, I am still here on the same spot. Unfortunately, at my age nobody in this country would want to hire me. Yes, it is definitely age discrimination or something; but my skills set is catered to steel manufacturing for 15 or odd years.

I do have other skills I could muster, but these are not the highlights in my resume. Anybody out there hiring for a webmaster with only a four-year experience and could be much older than the boss? At the rate the internet is growing, with social networking; new languages, standards and all that, no one person could keep up with its development!

Or is anyone out there willing to employ a lecturer who had seen better days? The electrical engineering field had branched out to other sub-fields; and keeping abreast with all these new electrical theories and discoveries would take any ordinary person like me a year or so to fathom before I could teach and impart them to my prospective students. Maybe it’s a personal flaw that I do not feel confident teaching new things unless I fully understand what the heck the idea is all about!

Applying for an overseas job with a salary for the past four years barely enough to feed a family of four, plus a two-year old son, is too expensive an alternative. When I was rehired in 2004, the peso-dollar exchange rate was at PhP56; yet I received the same compensation circa 1999, back when the dollar was exchanged for PhP40. Meanwhile, the expats were hired on contemporary exchange rates! Oh, so much for equality! Rank has its own privileges, as military parlance taught me years ago. But at least in the olden days, inequality was not so glaring as now.

For the past four years from 2004, however, the installment method and irregularity of receiving these salaries have deliberately squandered the propensity or the opportunity to save. Thus, once the delayed installment of a salary was received it was only meant to pay for loans made during the previous month. No amount of budgeting expertise or acumen one could possess, all budget plans become futile if the replenishment of funds seemed distant or abstract. I thought it was only me having this difficulty; but found out later that some of my colleagues became "one scratch, one peck!" or in the dialect: isang kahig, isang tuka, but learning to stretch a budget for as long at it can be stretched buckles one time or another!

People say patience is a virtue. Darn! Virtues are abstract ideas when one’s stomach is grumbling for food; or you cannot even buy medicine for this throbbing headache after relying on a battery-powered lamp because the electric power was cut-off from one’s house; or send your children to school because you only received a compensatory time-off instead of cash payments for overtime rendered. You cannot pay your children’s tuition fees with compensatory time offs!

I once thought that the four years of NSC under liquidation taught patience to those who were retrenched, including myself. Maybe Tolstoy got it wrong by saying that "good things come to those who wait!" Probably that sentence should be qualified with: "only if one does something while waiting." They also say that "Everything’s gonna be alright!" or "Everything will fall into place!" but pundits now say not everything is going to be alright or at the present, everything fell into pieces!

Should we all go out of the kitchen if we can’t stand the heat? But I heard the desert is also hot! And there are people there that I am working with, now! So same difference!


Disclaimer : The posts on this site are my own and doesn’t necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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1 Comment »

  1. Rey,
    With your writing talent, you can be a contributor to any newspaper. Doesn’t pay much, but doing something you love to do and good at — then being paid for it – that is a dream job!
    I wanted to mention “look the other way” in your previous post “ready, set, let go” — but was not sure if it was appropriate. This post answered my question.

    Comment by emarene — 2009.January.14 @ 00:45 | Reply


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