Offline

It is another work day again so off to work I go. I arrived at the office on time, actually earlier, just like how any good employee should be. I am all fresh, spic and span, and my barong and pair of slacks neatly pressed. Of course, black shoes shiny and bright.  Our day officially starts with a prayer, then a flag ceremony, and followed by a pledge of service to the public. All of it happen in front of our office, right outside where everyone can see, right in front of our clients who eagerly wait to get their business with us done so that they can finish their other plans for the day. They are here to deal with their licenses, car registration, and the likes. Yes, I am an LTO employee.

Finally seated at my post, computer’s up and running, and about to start work then I heard the word passed around. It spread inside the office fast yet faster outside. In minutes everyone learned about the word.

Few more minutes and clients outside my window filled the blue adjoining steel seats. It didn’t take any longer before sarcastic remarks fly by. Remarks that, while from different faces and ages and walks of life and on a different day, are very similar in nature. But man, I have gotten used to these somehow. Over the years my superiors have told me that to survive I have to ignore unsolicited advice from senior citizens who don’t understand technology; from the young ones who are arrogant and seem to know better as if it’s a matter of pushing the reset button and everything goes back online. We consider these as trivial job ‘hazards’ and I have learned to let each pass through the other ear. All in a day’s work.

My name is posted outside, right in front of my stall, on the MV registration workflow. I am very aware of that. In fact, I told my family all about it the very first time our office placed the tarpaulin there and they were so very proud of me—my child especially. He has told his classmates about it as well. The workflow states that transaction time ends after 90 minutes. But does it? Sometimes yes, sometimes not. Blame it on the word.

The clock is ticking, didn’t realize that almost two hours have passed, and I looked out my window again. People are getting restless, more restless than the time they first heard the word. Some have returned with something to munch on just as if they’re on a DVD marathon.

Some have entertained themselves with something that is of no cost. I can see some staring purposely on the no noon break poster. The assurance of it doesn’t help I know. I imagine some planning something sinister if only they can get away with it—like a car jack smashed into the glass or a flash bang being tossed inside our office just to awaken our senses. If they do that I actually can’t blame them. I believed though that these people, however fidgety they start to get, are civil. Up to when, however, that I don’t know. For example, any moment from now and this one bald man in black shirt and faded camouflage cargo shorts could snap. Heaven forbid. His queue number shows 26 and half more behind him looks just as irritated.

He has actually started a discussion around just to take a break from what seems an ebook he was occupied with a while ago—back when he seems to show some patience. How inept this government agency is; why wonder how EDSA and other highways are full of reckless drivers when in the LTO compound alone are people who drives in and out with total disregard of the law—motorcycle riders without helmet, cars with tinted plates, drivers who do not know how to park. Everything happening right in front of our senior officials. Those were some of his ice breakers and others do agree with him. He may be a politician in the making. Someone please make him stop.

Wait, I heard a familiar voice on the public address system. There is an announcement, the queue numbers are being called, they are not offline anymore. Back in business. Back to being me, for I am just an ordinary citizen, never an LTO employee, just someone trying hard to understand what it feels to be like working in an organization that is almost synonymous to this one word. Come to think of it LTO must stand for Land Transportation Offline.

So when do I see you again LTO? Maybe after 45 days as promised on your memorandum on new plates? Or would I be too naive to expect that from you? By the way, I checked your list of newly released plates while waiting to pay at the cashier and I saw that these are from people who renewed their car registration in January. Yes, I know the answer.

My SMS with wifey during that day at the LTO.

Revision: Added this pic because as always my wife demands an image on my post.

***

Smile, there’s a light at the end of the LTO tunnel. Read this LTO chief: ‘We’re looking at processing licenses in 10-15 minutes by November’

***

 Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Eager to go back to the gym.)

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