Friday, February 25, 2005

silence of an elevator girl

I forgot to buy chocolate for that elevator girl again.

I’ve been wanting to buy her Choclet, a tiny, one-peso chocolate bar that Tonette sells at the office. It might cheer her up. I know how it feels to be bored out of your wits. I can only imagine how it would be like to be bored out of your wits inside an ancient, rickety, ghost-infested elevator from the Paleolithic Age. For that, she deserves a tiny piece of chocolate.

But hey, she sure does take her job seriously. She knows exactly which floor every employee will go. You don’t need to tell her where you’re going. You just have to show your face and she could read it like a bar code scanner. There are times when I would catch her reading The Daily Bread or some Christian book (or was it the Bible? Hell, I don’t remember. It’s been so long since I last held a bible—take note, I said ‘held’ not ‘read’). Sometimes she would be singing her favorite Christian song (oh yes, once upon a time, all I sang were Christian songs, no, I breathed Christian songs; all else, I considered rubbish or devilish. That’s what too much church does to you, it kinda warps your mind a bit).

Our only interaction came when, I—late as ever—came sprinting into her little antique elevator with the original London cast recording of The Phantom of the Opera playing in my walkman (I was excited over the prospect of watching the movie version that night only to realize that my excitement was not worth it; but that’s another story) I didn’t realize that I was actually singing along Michael Crawford’s “Point of No Return” a wee bit too loud.

“Nice voice,” she commented when the elevator doors creaked opened on the fifth floor. I just smiled and walked off.

Too bad I was in a hurry. If I wasn’t facing the threat of suspension due to too much tardiness, I would’ve stayed and chatted a bit.

That conversation could’ve been the start of something profound. I could’ve drawn much from her. Like, what goes on in her mind when the elevator starts its rusty grind up and down the chute. What psychological warfare does she undergo to keep her sanity while silly office gossip wafts her way through loud-mouthed employees who ride the elevator? How does she fight boredom? How many sheep can she count in one day? How does she shoo away mindless chatter about the weather? What does she think about life? About being in a cell? About life in a cell? What kind of maddening silence does she have to endure when no one enters the elevator? Or what kind of silence does she need to maintain to be non-obtrusive?

When I was under Prof. Randy David in his master’s class (for which I got a whopping INCOMPLETE; I did not submit the final paper, I think), he told us that he was working on a book about silence. He was going around town interviewing all sorts of people on their views on silence. A loner’s silence can be different from the silence of a criminal being led to the lethal injection chamber. We all have our own versions of silence. And more often than not, it is this silence that speaks volumes about who we are. The unspoken reveals much of what the soul tries to hide. (Reminder: check if Randy actually finished the book, if he did, go buy it).

My silence is the silence of an observer. I may not speak that much, but I do see. I try to see beyond what other people say. I’m more focused on what they would rather not say. There’s always something there that is held back, no matter how frank and brutally honest a person claims to be. And sometimes, this silence gives me the creator-watching-over-his-creation kind of feeling. I’m there and yet I’m not. I’m very much part of the scene but I am not within the scene. I simply observe. And take down notes in my head.

Silence would never be maddening for me. It is a very welcome companion. I could work as a security guard in an abandoned building and enjoy its creepy silence while reading books or writing my own book.

But for now, I might break my silence inside the elevator and try to talk to that girl. She needs a bar of chocolate.



At 9:49 PM, Anonymous lev said...

this one i like best. i don't know the literati that much, and i grapple over thoughts such as these at times, too -- nameless, "small" people and all. heck, i'm building my career over these folks.

best thing about it though, is it's you speaking. keep 'em coming la croix!

At 10:22 AM, Anonymous chris said...

hey, how about creating your own blog and posting your bento files? i've been missing them lately. i'd love to read them everyday. -chris

At 1:49 PM, Blogger weng said...

hey! checked your blog the moment i saw it in the egroups. i always thought you're a good writer (not to mention a good seatmate in french class, mwehe). i missed those times. =D

i liked this piece myself. it's deeply interesting to find people who can see past what's superficial. so, have you given her the chocolates yet? =D

At 10:24 AM, Blogger dionne said...

sensitive ka pala... kala ko kasi... hehe! peace man! =)

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Patx said...

Read your blog plug in the pinoywriters group. I have moments like these too. Sometimes I see/meet people who might be halfway interesting, but then due to circumstances I never really get to see beyond the exterior like I would've wanted to, which could be a shame.
I cannot think at how the girl manages to motivate herself. I mean, for how long could one amuse oneself and/or philosophize about elevators? Jobs such as those should just be temp positions. (You're right - she does deserve that chocolate.)


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