Recently, I spent my lunch hour (and more) waiting in line to file my income tax return. In a diverse set of people where the tension was rising because of the heat, the long wait, the money to be given up, and just the general inconvenience, characters are sure to be present. They make things interesting, and they give people something to think and talk about. With this particular set, I met some highly amusing ones and I'd like to share them with you.
Interesting character #1: Mrs. Middle-aged Mommy
Wide hips, maroon lipstick, big handbag, strong vocal chords.
The first one who caught my attention, she sat 3 heads before me. When someone complained, "Bakit ang bagal naman gumalaw ng pilang 'to." ("Why is this line moving so slowly?"), she said, to the crowd, in her booming, musical voice: "Nasa Pilipinas kasi tayo! Lahat dito mabagal! Ang Pilipinas talaga mabagal!" ("We're in the Philippines! Everything is slow in this country!"), illiciting uneasy laughter from the entire room.
Interesting character #2: Ms. I Am Loud And Proud
Big woman, sans makeup, street-smart attitude, rude, and crass.
She had a loud, tinny voice, you can't help but notice her making complaints and comments about everything. When someone cut in line, she shouted brashly: "Ano ba naman yan. Hindi naman pumila 'tong babaeng 'to. Kahiya-hiya, bigla nalang sumingit, ang kapal ng mukha. Kami lahat dito, pumila ng maayos, tapos siya, sisingit lang? Bakit naman ganon, guard? Ang kapal." ("What the hell! This woman right here wasn't in line earlier?! She just cut in! She should be ashamed of herself! All of us here waited for our turn and she thinks she can just cut in line? Guard, do something about it!"). Everyone just shifted nervously.
Interesting character #3: Mr. I Am Awesome
Douchebag-y type, confident pose, in polo and slacks, smart-looking folder in hand.
Asked this dude to hold my place in line because I needed to clarify something from the other room. He obliged, nicely, in fact. He was nice enough until he tried to start a conversation. He asked me what company I worked for, what I did for a living, where my office was exactly. I kept giving him vague answers because I am wary of strangers and I had just watched Taken. He kept trying to be helpful and make casual conversation until I started talking to the mommy-types.
Interesting character #4: Mr. I Love My Momma
Slouching, In a baseball cap, tshirt, jeans and rubbershoes.
His mother saved his place in line, right before me. When we got settled in inside, his mother went, "O sige ha, iwan ko na anak ko sa inyo." ("Okay, I'm going to leave him here with you now."). He was quiet and reserved, kept to himself, broke into small smiles when something was funny. Only talked when directly talked to, also, moved in line precisely, quickly, fluidly, his papers arranged in a neat, orderly stack (prepared by mommy).
Interesting character #5: Mr. Friendly Guard
Strongly built, thick brows, easy and open smile, fatherly type.
He was passing by and I was casually telling the mother next to me that I've been waiting for a few hours now and was thirsty from the heat. With an open smile, he offered to get me a bottle of water from the nearby stall (so I wouldn't have to leave my place in line). I gave him my thanks and he was friendly all througout my stay, said goodbye and some other niceties like, "Natapos din, ano?" ("Good, you're finally done with it.") as I was leaving.
Interesting character #6: Mr. Tired But Still Working Guard
Strongly built, thick brows, tired but smart eyes, fatherly type.
He was guarding the line outside (where it was extremely warm). He had a wry smile on his face because people kept trying to cut their way in. He answered the questions as best he could, tried to be helpful but he was firm. He moved languidly, through the motions, and was indifferent to the complaining taxpayers. He was nice, friendly, steady and solid. From the look of it, he was just tired from the daily grind, because he smiled and waved me goodbye as I left.
All of them were very interesting, but I am particularly thankful to Mr. Friendly Guard, who kindly, willingly and cheerfully bought me a cold bottle of water but whose name I didn't get to ask. Without him, I would've been a lot crabbier and a little less amused.