Sometimes it's hard being me. I occasionally amaze myself with the amount of B.S. I can spread in one place. I used this God-given ability on a daily basis back at AT&T in Springfield, Illinois for almost 30 years. Though I have been retired for over three years and don't have co-workers to share my "gift" with anymore, I had occasion to dust off and use my "talent" the other day at Robinsons in Iloilo City at The Sun Store. (Photo of Ivy Villania who starred in a Sun Cellular TV commercial directed by Paolo Dy, © All Rights Reserved. From Flickr.)
Now for the uneducated readers out there, The Sun Store is not a tanning salon. For my fellow redneck friends from Central Illinois who want to avoid a shotgun wedding with their first cousin or sister, it's also not an outlet to purchase readymade offspring. It's a joint where you can get postpaid or prepaid cellular phone services from PLDT, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company.
I had decided it was time to save some money on our telecommunication needs. My asawa has sisters in the Metro Manila area, Caloocan City, to be more specific.
Signed up for the Plan 350 which surprisingly enough, costs 350 pesos per month (about eight US Dollars.) Since the majority of The Sainted Patient Wife's sisters use Sun (at least the ones she is currently speaking to), she can chat (or text) with them all day long because they are on the same network. Our 18-year-old twin nieces also have Sun, so she can converse with them. Frankly, this takes a huge financial and personal burden off my back.
My asawa was spending a lot more on P100 phone cards which gave her unlimited calls and text for five days. Though the money she was spending on the prepaid cards was coming out of her personal monthly expenses, I knew that if she was constantly on the phone every day of the month, that was costing her a lot more than 350 pesos a month. I was never a math whiz, but it wasn't hard for me to figure that one out.
To sweeten the deal, when I signed up for the service, a new cell phone was part of the bargain. The plan also includes 250 free text messages to other networks. This was a "no-brainer" for me. My wife could talk endless chizmiz (gossip) while she restocked our water barrels, swept and mopped the floors, cooked meals, cleaned the CR, weed her flowers and plants, etc. Multi-tasking at it's best!
This would free up huge blocks of time for me as I would not even have to offer the occasional grunt or engage in any meaningful conversation whatsoever. It will afford me more "guy time" where I can surf the net, drink more San Miguel Pale Pilsen, burp and watch tv. To those of you non-believers out there that question whether a guy can "live like a king in the Philippines," I say to you in the words of our President, "yes, you can"!
Since one of the requirements for the Sun postpaid plan was to have a utility bill in your name, I was the only one eligible to sign up for the service. Our utility bills in Guimaras were in our relatives' names. Our bills at our new rental home outside of Iloilo City are in the homeowner's name. I have my Smart Bro broadban service in my name.
I also have an ACR-I card, Alien Certificate of Registration, which is a requirement for foreigners. Just had to show proof of my monthly income, my retirement account deposits, and put down some landline numbers of friends or relatives per Mae, the lady that originally set up my account (we do not have a landline, and that was supposed to be one of the requirements.)
Was advised by Mae that it would take three to four business days before I would be notified if my account has been approved or not. Got the call after just a few days that I was approved, so my wife and I headed out to Robinsons the next day. That is the only Sun Store location in Iloilo City.
Grabbed my number to be waited on at the entrance to the shop, and was soon called to Counter 2 where Mae was stationed. Walked over to her, but she directed me to a young man next to her. Slightly confused, I sat down. I immediately noticed the young man was sweating profusely. I told him that it was hot. He said the air con was not working properly. Mae piped up and said that our associate was nervous and that he needed to practice his English.
I told him there was no need to be nervous. I had spent 30 years working at AT&T and part of my job was to communicate with other call centers across the world. Told him that I loved reaching centers in the Philippines, but that the Indian call center agents were hard for me to understand and rude at times. Mae piped up and said Ivan, my agent, looked Indian.
- "Ivan? That's a Russian name!" I loudly exclaimed.
- "His family name is Gonzalez, Spanish," Mae volunteered.
- "Well, that's a Spanish, Filipino name, that's for sure. Ivan, you do look Indian. Are you 100% Filipino?" I asked.
- "Yes, sir," he replied.
- "Maybe your Mother had an Indian boyfriend that she not tell your father about?" I said teasingly.
All of his co-workers roared! The poor guy's hands were visibly shaking now. He was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. The sweat continued to pour from his brow.
- "It's OK, don't be so nervous, Ivan," I said in an attempt to calm him down, "I might be an American but that doesn't mean I'm going to be rude or impatient with you. Just take your time. I'm retired, and I'm on 'Filipino Time.' Just try to relax."
He then asked what phone I would like to choose for the Plan 350. I told him I would call my asawa over to pick one.
- "A wise man lets his asawa make such important decisions, Ivan." I asked him if he was married. He advised me he wasn't. "OK, I said," but if you get married just remember that advice I just gave you."
The young Sun Store associate then activated the new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Y model. We paid our P350 for our first months' service, and we were on our way. Wanted to catch "Safe House" with Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington at MovieWorld at Robinsons. Had to be quiet in there, however, and not spread any more B.S. But my mouth would be too full of salted butter popcorn anyway. Will have to practice my "talent" on a later date. Rest assured, I will.