When my younger sister prevailed over me in naming the new dog, I knew the days of my influence in the family are numbered. I had insisted on the name Islington, after the asexual angel in Gaiman’s Neverwhere, since the poor mongrel neither looked male nor female to me. But it appears that my siblings are fed up with putting up with my oddities and so went ahead and finally christened the dog Bum-Bum.
I am not sure whether it is spelled “Bum-Bum,” to add insult to injury (I have been staying at home unemployed for about a month now), or “Bam-Bam,” after Rihanna (who is my little sister’s favourite African-American), or “Bomb-Bomb” (because of recent rumours that Iran has begun enriching Uranium). The circumstances favour the first possibility. Nothing is more annoying than a freeloader scum like me.
One of the problems is that it is too easy to find a job at another BPO sweatshop these days, even for a college dropout with my notorious record of two consecutive AWOLs. All one has to do is to dress nicely during the interview and tell people whatever rubbish they want to hear. (“No, I do not see myself leaving the industry in ten years’ time. I don’t mind overtime work and shifting schedules and graveyard shifts, and I absolutely, absolutely enjoy helping Americans who do not know what the F8 key is.”)
There was a time when I could still wring out romanticism out of being an 18 year-old yuppie working the business district. I had considered it a tragedy to be sucked in by globalization’s vacuum cleaner. But that was three years ago and am I still doing this against my own free will?
As of October 2009, the National Statistics Office (NSO) has reported a 7.1 percent unemployment rate, one of the highest in Southeast Asia, and a 19.4 percent underemployment rate. These numbers are distressing enough without even taking into account that the NSO has a twisted understanding of what unemployment and underemployment mean. Even those who are employed may not necessarily be happy with what they are doing and how much they are being paid for to do their exciting jobs.
There is of course a classic argument against people who remain poor and unhappy with their lot in life. This is perhaps summed up perfectly by both Manny Villar and Gilbert Teodoro: “Sipag at Tiyaga” and “Galing at Talino.” This assumes that everyone is gifted with the right diploma and the right skills and that everyone will be rewarded according to how hardworking they are.
My family does not use this line of offense against me of course. Well, actually, my mom once did, now that I think about it. She told me I should have saved enough money to go back to school by now. If I remember correctly, I left her house the next day and did not come home after more than half a year. When parents tell their children off, the children can do two things: argue by employing social theories or shut up. Or of course they can leave. Which I did.
Now, a few months after I have returned home as a prodigal son, with more emotional baggage and less money in my ATM card than when I left, I knew that again the household climate is ripe enough from too much “suicide bumming.”