Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It Takes Shock Therapy to Open Your Eyes...

When my husband came home from work the other day, I dropped everything I was doing to run to the door and greet him with a long lingering hug as soon as he stepped foot out of the car. Call me a drama queen if you’d like, but I actually had tears welling up my eyes and I felt lucky he was alive.

No, he wasn't recently in any car accident nor did he go through any near death experiences of any kind. He just went to work, went to meetings with clients, replied a few dozen emails or so and at the end of the day, drove home – all the normal routine (and perhaps rather mundane) things.

What wasn't normal was the fact that someone called our house telling our poor housekeeper that he had been in a terrible car accident and was in critical condition at the nearest hospital. In tears and completely terrified, our housekeeper called my mother-in-law, who then called and told me.

Sure, I had heard of similar scams happening around our circle of friends. They call, they say our loved one is dying then they make a second call asking for money. So logically I was convinced it was a scam almost immediately. Somehow though, in the back of my head, I kept thinking "What if it's true?" Matters became worse when I kept getting my husband's voicemail at every attempt of calling his cell phone.

Figuring the only way to find out was to see for myself, I left the office, rushed to take a cab to the hospital, and was there in less than ten minutes. I soon found out that my initial instinct was correct - it was just a scam. And no, the con artist did not ask for money - which made the scam seem rather odd and pointless. But anyway...

On my way out of the hospital -where the nurses there told me this sort of thing happened all the time - I finally managed to get through to my husband. Although I knew it was a scam, I still felt unbelievably relieved that he was unharmed, unscathed, and even smirking at me in response to my so-called overreaction. I couldn't stop the inner drama queen in me, I bawled my eyes out as soon as I heard him say "hello".

People generally say that everything happens for a reason. So perhaps this odd incident happened to wake me up and tell me that I haven't been appreciating my husband enough? Was it a cosmic attempt to remind me not to take him for granted? And perhaps for me to subsequently tell others about it so they could learn the same lesson I did?

Whatever the reason, I find myself now strangely thanking the person who tried to scam us. Not deeply thanking him of course, because well, who am I kidding, at the end of the day he still gave me an anxiety attack and I'm not a saint so it’s not that easy for me to entirely forgive and forget. But beyond that, I did learn something out of the whole fiasco.

Sometimes it takes a bit of drama in life to wake you up, and while I used to be more of a "the glass is half empty" kind of person, I can now tell myself that even though it's half empty, but at least it's not entirely empty. There is still half a glass worth drinking.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Waiting... and waiting... and waiting...

So, I was standing in line at the Bank (after pay day, obviously) and I noticed that the line was basically shaped like an 'M'. I stood there patiently waiting for my turn for at least 45 minutes, and finally when it was my turn, the teller put up a 'closed' sign and just before she left, she asked me to move to the next line. To cut the long story short, I finally made my transaction after being at the (stupid) bank for around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Time wasted here: 1 hour and 5 minutes.

When I got back to my car, I had to wait for the gate to exit the parking lot to open, which took forever because for some reason, the gate was stuck. Time wasted here: 10 minutes.

As I got out of the lot, I entered a traffic jam that prolonged by journey to the office by about half an hour, causing me to be a total of 3 hours late to get to the office, while I had only asked permission to leave the office for an hour to get all the bank stuff settled. Time wasted here: 30 minutes.

This - all the agonizing waiting - is not the end of my story, my friends. At around 3pm, I was supposed to have a meeting with this agency, and while I managed (for once) to not be late and arrive at the venue at exactly 3pm, the agency was late because they had a flat tire on the way to meet me, so I had to wait for around 40 minutes until they finally showed up. Then, as they were going to present their concept to me, they had a problem with their laptop, so again, I had to wait. Time wasted here: 50 minutes.

On the way back to the office, traffic was fantastic and I was so happy to be able to arrive back before 6. I rushed to clear a few emails and left by just before 7, and... was greeted by none other than an evening rush of traffic. Home, which is essentially 20 minutes from the office, became 45 minutes away. Time wasted here: 25 minutes.

Dinner was OK, but then after dinner and after playtime with the kids, I wanted to log on to my computer to check Twitter and reply some personal emails and all of a sudden the wi-fi was off. I called the internet provider and got the automatic answering machine, and was told to... wait for it... WAIT! Imagine that... I waited for what seemed like ages, and finally a man answered and said I would have to wait while the technician checked. Internet was back on at around 11pm - which was about half an hour after I called. Time wasted here: 20 minutes.

Look, I know that patience is supposedly a virtue. But see, I wasted a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes that day, just waiting around aimlessly, when I could have been doing so many other things more useful in my life.

In 3 hours and 15 minutes, I could have read a book with my kids and played with them, I could have written another 1,000 to 2,000 words for my novel, I could have replied 100 emails at the office, I could have proof read at least 10 articles for the magazine I work for, I could have watched an entire movie, and I could have even watched 9 episodes of my favorite sitcom! Oh, my fave sitcom these days is How I Met Your Mother, by the way.

I just don't get it. On a daily basis, we waste so much precious time that we never get back, and at the end of the day, what do we get out of it? Nothing more than what we initially needed anyway. And I think about all the times I wished there were more than 24 hours in a day... I mean, if we saved all the time wasting, we'd have those extra hours we need, don't you think?

Maybe it's just me, because I'm pissed at all these people who have made me wait. But tell me, is it so wrong to want things to run smoothly, glitch-less and hiccup-less so we can all move along faster in life?

Friday, May 1, 2009

For The Love of Gossip

Did your mother ever tell you it wasn't nice to gossip about people? Mine did. A lot. She used to tell me that it wasn't nice to talk about people behind their backs. She said it was disrespectful, especially if what we were saying about them were not even necessarily true. Perhaps not a lie, but more like "speculation" or "assumptions".

The reason for that little talking-to we had was because she overheard me on the phone with my friend 'R', talking about how 'A' and 'C' left together from a party we all went to the night before, and we met them again in the morning at McDonald's wearing the same clothes they were in. Ohhh... that was sweet gossip material indeed.

Fast forward a 'few' years later - well ok, maybe not really a few.. more like fifteen.. - guess what? I'm still gossiping. Or rather, looking forward to gossip.

Here's how gossip surrounds my life: I get up and go to work in the morning, and I arrive at work at 08.30 (if my HR is reading this, then yes, I get there at 08.30. If she's not reading this, then actually, I arrive at 09.00. Sometimes 09.15. Oh all right, fine, I admit it - sometimes it's 09.30!) and before I start turning on my computer and checking my emails for oh-so-important emails from people, I sit back in my chair with my mug of coffee and wait for exactly 2 minutes. 2 minutes later, on the dot, my two colleagues come up to me with gossip for the day. "Did you hear what happened to 'K' from accounting? Her boyfriend totally dumped her for a model!" or "OMG, 'L' just had a fight with 'C' and cried in the ladies room for two hours!" -- you get the picture, right?

Then, throughout the day, I'd receive numerous phone calls, asking about certain work related things, but then ending up with at least one or two more gossip topics. By the end of the day when I am ready to go home but not quite eager to get stuck in traffic, I open up perezhilton.com to check out the latest celeb gossip. Oh, and I'm signed up for the newsletters too.

On weekends, my husband and I love going to bookstores, where the kids would get 1 book each that they like, he'd get some magazines and books, and I would grab the latest People magazine along with some fiction novels (because I can't be bothered reading books that don't have conversations in them).

And it's not just me! Every single time I am at the bookstore, I hover around the magazine rack along with hundreds of other women, all practically pushing and shoving trying to grab hold of OK or Life & Style or Star or whatever gossip magazine is available. And believe me, the ones that sell the most are the one with headlines like, "Co-star Love Triangle" or "She left him" or "She Kicked Him Out". It's always the relationship gossips that sell best.

What is our fascination with gossip? Why is there always that need to know someone else's business and then re-tell it to someone else? Why is it that we enjoy it so much that we dedicate valueable time in our lives that we can never get back, just to talk about things that might not even be true? Even when you know for sure it's not true, there is this urge to read or talk about it anyway!

Maybe it's because some of us live mundane and uneventful lives. We live monotonously and so we feel the need to live vicarously through others. Maybe it's because it's the only way we can talk to other people constantly. Like, if we didn't have gossip, our conversations over lunch or dinner with friends would probably only be enough to last us through appetizers. What else would we talk about during the main course? Or maybe, just maybe, it's because we actually care about the people we are talking about. Maybe. Highly unlikely, but well, maybe.

For those of you that feel bad for constantly being obsessed with gossip, fear not, you are not alone. There is a whole bunch of people out there (and here, e.g. yours truly) that cannot for the life of them, live with out gossip. I, for one, have already made it a point to tell my mother that if she is expecting me to stop gossiping (or hearing it, or looking for it) - it's never going to happen in this lifetime. It's just part of who I am.

I do constantly wonder why I do it though. Honestly. Don't you?