Today is Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tempus Fugit

by: Mani F. Gella

Every time someone retires from work, the inevitable question that is asked is – how many years in the service? Followed by, has it been that long? Parang kailan lang, ‘ika nga. Yes, time flies and how. Sometimes it makes you wonder, where did time go? You tell yourself it seemed like only yesterday when - - - - -

The full complement of the Court of Appeals (CA) Justices was only 30 and the Court’s population was six hundred (600) where everybody knew everybody. The personal driver of a Justice was paged through a sound system (that had seen better days) attached precariously to one of the wooden posts of the drivers’ nook while the Justice waited (under the canopy that covered just a portion of the front steps) for his car to pull up in front of the Main Building.

The CA female employees’ bowling tournaments were held with flourish. Attractive names were given to each team, names like, Toe-Ticklers, Ladies’ Choice, Queen Pins and Keglerettes, among others. They did not scrimp on their made-to-order uniforms either. The more colorful they were, the better. As in basketball tournaments that sported movie stars as muses, these ladies were not to be outdone. The individual team’s prince charming was picked from an array of eligible and dashing bachelors of the Court.

Mrs. Thelma Bones, then of the Personnel Division (who dispensed the timecards to the employees every morning) was stationed before 8:00 a.m. near the front entrance of the Medical Clinic (that used to be located in the Main Building) where the bundy clock was. She kept her office paraphernalia (a table and two boxes of timecards) inside the Clinic after office hours thus the name “cardiologist” (referring to her) was coined by the Court’s punsters. Her successor, Ms. Mirope Reyes (bless her soul), who was as thorough as she was, relied on the use of a magnifying glass to decode the illegible entries on the timecards.

Prior to the advent of day care centers, some pre-school age children of young working mothers tagged along with them to the Court, where the children practically learned their ABCs. In the afternoon, they took their naps comfortably ensconced underneath their mommies’ desks until it was time to go home. (Incidentally, some of these former preschoolers are now employed with the Court.)

Atty. Elisa B. Pilar-Longalong, Atty. Ely to you and me, who was just sworn in as Clerk of Court, had already completed her mandatory government service on July 1, 2007, a service that was delineated as efficient and committed. Nixon, (no relation to the former American president) her once-upon-a-time ever-reliable factotum, with his “mobile tailoring shop”, was the most sought- after person in the CA to repair ill-fitted new office uniforms or clothes. Her all- female staff, (the late Ay-Ay, Susan B., Susan C., Marivic) her coterie of “loyalists” (as I like to call them), who are now all married with kids, were barely in their twenties when they started out in the CA.

Mr. Justice Renato C. Dacudao, an esteemed and revered member of the bench, who penned his last decision on 13 June 2007 before reaching the compulsory age of 70 last 19 June 2007 (but whose graphic and legal mind they can never retire) worked as Research Attorney in the sala of the late Justice Fernando Hernandez the first time he joined the Court.

Tempus fugit.. And yes, retirements have a way of summoning a myriad of memories. They bring about an onslaught of images that quickly flashes through one’s mind. But at the same time, they usher in also scores of possibilities that minister to a retiree’s preferences; be it picking up a new hobby as esoteric as collecting butterflies or as common as collecting stamps or as outlandish as skydiving and rock climbing for the adventurous. Re-learning how to play the piano to exercise those arthritic fingers or taking up short courses in languages to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with a German son-in-law are options worth considering. Tending to grandchildren while their parents are at work can truly be rewarding. Resuming an old hobby (like gardening) that was temporarily shelved on the back burner or simply finding the time to stop and smell the flowers will fill in the idle moments. Whatever the inclination, retirement is about being a child all over again. It means doing the things one never had time to do before. It is living the life that was put on hold when one can now afford the luxury of time.

Some people say time is gold. Others say time is money and thus should not be squandered away. As one notable inventor aptly put it, ‘Lost time is never found again.’ In the early days, (when latecomers were frowned upon) a person’s character was defined by the number of minutes that he made someone wait. Unfortunately, today, it has been observed, the reverse is true. Nowadays, it is considered fashionable to be late. Fashionable or not, those who are sticklers for time contend that wasting someone’s time by being unjustifiably delayed, not only smacks of discourtesy but of ill-breeding as well.

Does time really stand still? Or is it only true in fairy tales where everything is make-believe, or in romantic songs where each mushy line is sung to soothe the soul? Truth to tell, time is fleeting. Time marches on. Time swiftly slips away so when something beautiful happens in your life, seize the moment because time waits for no man.

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