Photo by Lance Matthew Pahang
“The Power Pump is capable of washing 6-7 kilos of laundry at a time. Outdoor clothes can be spun in a cycle for around six to eight minutes, while indoor clothes can be washed for three to five since they tend to be less dirty. Just attach the hose here and water comes out the other end for draining.”
Omar stared at the array of washing machines in front of him as he listened to his co-worker’s monotonous drawl in the background.
Swish was an old shop in their small town that sold a variety of appliances from beds to cabinets. The establishment first started out as a laundry business, hence the name. Omar was assigned to the washing machines. Unlike the aisle where the television sets were displayed, Omar’s section was much less frequented by customers. In other words, he had a lot of free time.
Omar had been working at the same shop for over a decade. He had already been employed back when Swish only catered to laundry services. Now in his 50s, he remains charismatic and well put together.
His white polo was always tucked inside his black slacks that hung just above his ankle and showed the slightest hint of skin against his shiny leather shoes. He had been wearing the same hairstyle since he first applied for the job – sleek, pushed back, and drenched in hair gel. Since it was the holiday season, employees also had to wear either deer antlers or Santa hats as part of their uniform. Omar was extremely fussy about his hair so whenever he could, he would remove the antlers, much to the dismay of his manager.
While the rest of the workers were busy pouring their hearts out, singing karaoke in the TV section, Omar loved telling stories to his colleagues about his youth.
Tambayani was the name of Omar’s band of friends who spent their long afternoons and nights patrolling the streets and alleys of their small village. When pretty girls would pass by, the group would let out audible ooohs and aaahs trying to catch their attention . The tambayanis liked to think of themselves as watchmen, protectors of vulnerable girls and helpers of old men and women. Truth is, they had nothing better to do.
Their members ranged from 13 to 30 years old. Each one had his own post or station along the street and they would spend the entire day either talking or day drinking while keeping an eye out for anything that could stir up between the locals.
As the oldest employee in the bunch, the rest of the workers would be compelled to listen to Omar’s stories out of respect. The old man loved to recount the same stories over and over again, so much so that most of his colleagues could already predict whatever came next. Omar’s stories were a pleasant and amusing respite from the monotonous drawl of product promotions from within the small shop.
After a full day’s work, the employees had begun getting ready to leave. Omar held up his hands to remove his deer antlers, but paused when a little girl stopped in front of him and smiled.
“She likes your antlers,” remarked the manager who saw the exchange.
“Where are your kids?” pried the manager.
“Oh. They’re just… around,” Omar said with a smile.
“Alright. Hope you enjoy your holidays.”
The old man bid the rest of his colleagues goodbye as he exited the shop. On his way home, Omar wondered how he’d keep himself occupied until the holidays were over.