The late Mr. Juan dela Cruz

By Emmanuelle

RARE and admirable are those people who are up and away from their bed even before the sun does. Those early birds chirpily breeze through their morning rituals without much fussy feet-dragging, including doing death-defying acts like flipping an egg its sunny side perfectly up over hot sizzling pan, force-feeding and rushing kids through their own rituals, then pushing them still wet and squirming off to school. Those people arrive earlier than the rest of their co-workers, and they get first whiff of the workplace still foggy and dreamy after its own overnight’s rest from human intervention. Those chirpy people also get the job promotions and the due rewards.

As I said, those people are rare. And as I said, those people are admired; but, mainly by their employers and the clients they do business with, not by their co-workers who arrive more often than not, late.  Even later than late. And these co-workers secretly wish in the deep of their hearts that the early birds should Get a life! and sometimes, not just once in their lifetime, try to arrive late for a change. Even excitingly later than late.

After tongue-in-cheek interviews with bosses and personnel managers, and after a not-so-deep-in-the-heart research, this writer found that the following are the most outrageously used excuses handed in by late-and-later arrivals to work: “I was so excited over our new project, I spent the night planning and jotting down pointers to discuss with you come tomorrow. Come tomorrow, I woke up on the sofa, muscles and bones all mushy and squeaky. I had to run around the house, the block, the town. And that was just to raise the sleepy lids up.”  

This one is something else: “Our block had this power outage the whole night up to this morning. In the dark I lost my car keys. In the morning, I found I do not have a clean uniform to wear; I had to launder one set by hand. You would not want me to go to work wet and dripping, would you? So I had to dry it by sun and paypay. By the time it was fairly dry, I had to commute. (Remember I lost my car keys?) I got caught in pinakamakapal at pinakamabagal na traffic. I got wet again, this time by pawis. I had to dry myself before the biggest blower in the canteen. While drying myself, the smell of the tocino and longanisa and fried rice got to me. I realized I had not taken any breakfast yet (Remember I told you we had this power outage?).” 

This one is definitely more complicated: “My car was having on-and-off trouble and it was stopping traffic all the way from the house. I was pulled over by the traffic policeman. I protested loudly and vehemently, but he forced me to take a thorough alcoholic test. Then he found out I was truly out of alcohol, I mean I was out of gas. I remembered I got home late and the Lhuilier pawnshops were all closed, including BHF and Zuniga’s. I was dead broke; too much deductions from my salary (Sorry, sir!). So I was planning to pawn my watch. And my wedding ring. And, sadly, my one and only gold earring, this one by my right ear? In my panic and frustration with the police encounter, I forgot to remember anything. I developed temporary amnesia. Suddenly I did not know who I was, where I lived, where I worked. They had to confine me in hospital. That was why I was not only late; I was absent yesterday; and (So sorry, sir!) late again this morning. After remembering who I was, where I lived, and where I worked, I also remembered I was scheduled for audition this morning for Survivor Philippines. I just came from the audition, sir.”

And lost are those who have to listen to the latecomer who uses the following for excuse: On my way to work, the air pollution was so thick I got lost in the smog (Fog instead of smog if one lived in the cities of Baguio and Tagaytay or somewhere in Mindanao where it is as thick).

Although, admittedly, there is none more outrageous but most possibly probable than: “My wife locked me out of the house for coming home so early . . . in the morning. So, I wasted a lot of time looking around for something fresh to wear to work this morning. It was good I found my Pare’s pants and shirt and socks. Teka nga pala, now I wonder, why were his pants and shirt and socks hanging out to dry in my own backyard when he lives all the way across town?

But, excuse me, that would be another new old story to tell some few weeks later.

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