The Salesman Dilemma

He watched them as they took a whiff of the stuff and coughed their lungs out. What the hell do these guys like about these things?; he thought, throwing away the stick they gave as he tried to get a grip of himself. “Honestly guys, get a life” he mumbled under his breath. Feigning urgency, he told them he had to go. ” Guys, it’s already nine o’ clock, I have got to go, so you can take these damn things and stick them to your gut for all I care, just leave me out of-“; a sudden burst of panic cut short what he was about to say. He really had something to worry about. After composing himself, he stood up and left James and Tristan, who were still smoking their lungs off at the foot of the stairs.

Damn, I really gotta get that reading or I’ll be…well, damned. He looked at his wristwatch. I really ought to clean this thing. Wait, what the hell am I saying? I’ve got to focus! Pull yourself together, you poor, sad idiot. If only you’ve…. He stopped and took a moment to figure out what he was thinking. Was he really worried more about his watch than about the time?  This is not happening to me, he thought, almost aloud. Kindly pull yourself together, dear sir, or else you’ll have nothing to show for all this talk of doing a better semester, capiche? That shook him. He looked at his watch again. Nine-forty, right, on it. And he was off to the photocopier upstairs.

At 11:35, he was in front of a class, yapping about things called assumptions, but his mind was busy juggling some other topics. “I’m sorry about my hand writing…”; Yeah, right, and what are syllogisms? “An assumption is…”; Damn, I pray to God I’m not the only one without a copy of the “Death of a Salesman”, I’ll be gutted out for sure. “…and that’s what an assumption is.”; Logic is such a load of bull, my brain hurts just thinking about that test. He sat down, and looked at the time.  Only ten minutes? My freakin’ report only took about ten minutes? God, I must be losing my mind. My brain hurts. And so he spent the rest of the class thinking about a salesman, his oncoming test on logic, and two women, one in a place called Laguna and the other in a semi-obscure corner of the Philippines called Marinduque.

The class ended and he went straight to the College of  Arts and Letters. He was confident now, because this one was in the bag. He was already ‘in the know’ about what they were going to discuss, thanks to some last-minute ‘research’. He had hope to borrow a copy from one of his classmates in creative writing, but what the heck, he found another, more pocket-friendly solution.

Two hours before, in front of a photocopying machine, he took a look out a of a window. He went into one of those “moments” when he felt that he had the world all to himself. It’s a bit like insanity, although he swears to himself that he’s sane (although we all have some bit of insanity in ourselves, don’t we? So this is his ‘particularity’, for the lack of any word), and that he is completely conscious of his surroundings, even the birds that seem to be flying in slow motion, and the sounds around him being muffled somehow…

“Hello? Sir? Hello? What do you need?”. He fell out of his daze. He hadn’t realized that he was the one being talked to by the photocopy lady, who was by this time getting annoyed. It seemed that everyone in this university had their own measure of importance, some measure of discontentment in their own tales of life. Anyhow, he had the presence of mind tell the lady what he wanted. “Death of a Salesman” please, Professor Quina, if you may”. But something was off. The lady didn’t start browsing through the papers immediately, as she usually does. He braced for what the she had to say. “Sir, Professor Quina just pulled out those readings earlier…” Crap. “…but he left a new set, that you might be interested in.” He looked in horror at the title of the paper at the top of that lump of readings: “Magnificence” by Estrella Alfon. Once again, he looked at his watch. Ten o’ clock.

A few minutes later, he was on a jeepney, on the way to the College of Mass Communication.


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