I pride myself with self-discipline that allows me to keep my cool. It will take a really obnoxious person to upset me—as in leave me frothing at the mouth, raving mad, incensed to the nth degree, ready to declare a nuclear war with China even though I don’t have nuclear weapons.
Losing my temper only happens when I stare stupidity in the face. Or if somebody not of the royal stock, undistinguished in every count, looks down on me as a person.
Well, that rare occasion happened last Saturday on my first party of the day. Somebody who had not yet grown a brain discriminated against me and my staff.
This is how the sorry episode happened…
My assistants and I hurriedly unpacked our stuff and set up our props. I was huffing and puffing when I entered the function room, because I had to walk all the way from the parking lot, which was some distance away.
Imagine my surprise when a blue-uniformed janitor stood in my way, and in an authoritative voice told me, “Bawal gumamit ng CR (you are not allowed to use the CR [Comfort Room]).
I was taken aback. And felt insulted. “Bawal” is a strong Tagalog word. It means “not allowed” in English, but it has a more intense connotation in Tagalog. When ignored, “bawal” connotes breaking a law or a rule.
“Why can’t I use the toilet?” I asked the little emperor in front of the toilet door.
“Para lang sa mga guests ito (for guests’ use only),” he said.
I felt blood rush to my head. Worried I’d lose the good mood to perform (the performance was only a few minutes away), I tried to control myself.
I snapped and melted down. I became belligerent and churlish.
“Well, what do you take us for?” I said, already raising my voice. “Do you think we would come to this party without an invitation? If we are not guests, are we gate-crashers then?”
I saw bewilderment in his eyes. His problem was probably that he did not understand the meaning of the word guest.
Well, here’s how I understand the word. When I’m invited to appear on TV, the TV host refers to me as a guest performer.
When my child’s PTA invites me to speak in its meeting, they call me their guest speaker.
Here’s one of the things Dictionary.com says about guest: an actor, contestant, entertainer, etc, taking part as a visitor in a program.
So here’s my personal understanding of the word. A guest is somebody invited to someone’s party, whether to eat, drink, be merry, or to be the merrymakers.
The definition’s operative word is invite. If one is invited to a social function, then he is a guest. Consistent with this definition, since I was invited to come to the party, along with the rest of the other party goers, I too was a guest, in the same way the other invited visitors were guests.
My invitation is even special. It is in the form of money, not a card. And because I’m invited, I’m a guest (didn’t I said that already?), not a gate-crasher.
I told the janitor all that, but it seemed he was in over his head with the ramifications of the word.
Suddenly the photographer passed by us and went inside the toilet. The janitor did not stop him.
A little later the party host also went inside the toilet. The janitor let him in without a challenge.
That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. I didn’t have a straw with me, let alone a camel, but seeing the other performers allowed inside the toilet without interdiction was the last straw. It broke the camel’s back, and I went into a glorious meltdown.
“What’s your problem?” I asked him, my voice I think was loud enough for the guests at a nearby table to hear me. “Would you like me to bring the client here in front of you to tell you I too am invited to this party?”
He sheepishly said, “Okay, sir, pwede ka na pumasok (Okay, sir, you may use the toilet).”
It took five minutes of yoga and meditation inside the toilet to get me back to my normal performance mood. It was difficult to bring me back to that level, but I disciplined myself to contain the rage inside me. I was focused on giving a great show, so I did a lot of New Age, nerve-calming exercises inside the toilet.
The moral of the story no. 1: don’t allow a janitor to look down on you.
The moral of the story no. 2: don’t let a janitor grate on your nerves.
- The CR Can Yield Honest Feedback About Your Show (innermagicclub.wordpress.com)