This morning, I invoked the good girl residing buried under the mounds of mildewed rubbish, dust bunnies, old molted skins, and the general debris of my own self’s basement and helter-skelter ran down from my tropical jungle hideway to pay some outstanding electricity bills.
The bills have been tacked to my bedroom dresser for eons already, as my schedule did not make it easy for me to just go waltzing out at any hour to go to the electric cooperative payment outpost, falling in a three-mile-long line, waiting until, millimeter by millimeter, it would be my turn to hand my statement of account (SOA) to the octogenarian sitting behind a glass cage for him to smack his thumb on wrinkled lips and use the said thumb to leaf through the sheafs of tissue paper that are my SOAs, wrinkling his eyebrows every now and then as he strains, with fading eyesight, at the minuscule numbers representing the amount I owe each month for the service that allowed me to be anesthetized by shampoo commercials shown during prime time on the local tv station. I simply did not have the luxury to regularly experience such indescribable experience.
But today, despite the light drizzle and the fact that I ran out of the house without any breakfast, I resolved to treat myself to the experience of paying my bills, just like in the old days.
However, it turned out, to my slight disappointment, that the octogenarian I’ve mentioned earlier has already been called by his maker, perhaps making him the keeper of books up there (I imagine him, methodically smacking his lips and using his good old thumb to search for the names of people who are allowed entrance into the Pearly Gates. He’d be looking for my name under the letter “F”…”Let’s see now… Felipe, Felix, Feliz, Fem…” It will be ages before the lines moved).
The present teller’s hair has been slathered with the latest snake oil pomade, he had the lightest pink polish on his David’s Salon-manicured digits, he has a rock the size of a baby’s fist on his left earlobe, and I think I detected a hint of gloss on his lips. The top three buttons of his polo shirt were undone, revealing a chestful of hairs.
He leafed through my sheafs of SOAs with flexible fingers, looked at the computer monitor for verification of my account, then puckered his lips. Looked at the sheafs of SOAs and puckered his lips again. I sensed something was amiss with the three SOAs that I’ve brought.
He looked at me with a raised eyebrow (countoured, mind!) “There are five unpaid bills here.”
“Five unpaid bills. This wasn’t disconnected yet?” His contoured eyebrow made a perfect parabolic arc.
I told him that it’s only three that I have at hand. But it was like arguing with the Matterhorn. He would not budge. There were five bills there. Pay all of them or face disconnection in the coming days (the horror of not seeing Wowowee!). I didn’t have a choice. I paid the almost-three-zero-zero-zero outstanding balance.
(Lucky I was dripping with cash as of the moment — not! I was actually paid only 51 hours for the 104 hours that I reported for work. Something about an accounting personnel endorsing the wrong hours for my shift. So, actually, I was nearly broke.)
Then on to the good part. For those of you who are not aware of this, the town where I live is host to the power plant that generates electricity for most of the region and the surrounding provinces. It is ~aherm~ only natural that simple folks such as me could get an electric bill refund each time I pay my bill.
But still, in order to get the refund, it requires me to undergo a bit of a complicated process. But the process is actually a catch basin to keep the citizens of my beloved town in check, and it ensures that there are no deliquencies in our payment of taxes and other services, e.g., safe drinking water and property taxes. In toto, I shelled out an additional Php300 to pay for property taxes and water bills that I happened to forget about the previous two months *blush*.
After all the hullabaloo, I am pleased to inform the interested reader that I got my money back — that amount I paid for my electricity bill. All in all, it boils down to me spending Php300 to get back my almost-three-zero-zero-zero pesos. And I have paid all my taxes for this year. See you around, Internal Revenue!
I feel such a sense of accomplishment.
Somebody get me a halo and a pair of wings. I feel a beatific glow around me.