Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Of Printing Presses and Rebates
“Where?” he asked.
“There,” I said, pointing at a seemingly microscopic detail in front of him for the umpteenth time.
He squinted at the monitor in front of him and then looked up at me with eyes that looked like they had sunk two inches into their sockets.
I checked the time. It was 9:00 p.m. and we were barely halfway through. I looked at his half imploring eyes with my bloodshot ones. “I don’t care if you can’t go home to your pregnant wife tonight. You have to finish this before 10 even if it kills you!”
When I left my last job as a school publication moderator, I thought that I had finally seen the end of my printing press days. I seem to belong to such a rare breed though that my old employer has had no choice but to ask me to resume my old hobby of shamelessly terrorizing students, meticulously going through mounds of teenage angst-ridden compositions and obsessively looking for minutely misaligned text. The above transcript is an example of me breathing down the neck of a hapless printing press artist.
To be honest, there is nothing like the stress of trying to beat a deadline. I must admit though that I have always enjoyed and secretly welcomed the adrenaline rush of publication work. Incidentally, the pay isn’t really too bad.
I remember my first attempt at moderating a school publication. On top of my basic salary, I also received extra payment from the school for every issue released. Surprisingly, the first printing press I worked with also offered me a 10% rebate which, in my inexperience I promptly refused. The printing press tried to assure me that it was not a bribe but I was too scared to even touch the money. I later learned that transactions with other printing presses also often include hefty rebates for moderators.
By the way, I still don’t accept personal rebates. I let my students use whatever rebates we get as a working fund. Not everyone agrees with me and some even call me a fool for refusing easy money like that. They say cash rewards are a fact of life in most business transactions. In fact, my husband who works for a company says his colleagues also get rewarded in different ways by contractors and suppliers.
My experience made me think of transactions in a larger scale. If small fish like me get “bribed” so easily, that means big time fish do too. That means a certain former mayor who has denied ever receiving anything in exchange for a grossly overpriced public market project and the COMELEC official who has also denied receiving anything for another overpriced but shelved deal may really have been offered some rewards. I don’t know. This is just me thinking. I’m a virtual nobody but I have experienced being technically “bribed”. How much more those bigwigs? Positions of responsibility really do require exceptional self-control.