Whether they  work in the private or public sector, employees have two most anticipated days in every month. These two days determine the routines of the other days. Yes, they are that powerful: the when and where of those other days greatly depend on the figures written on their payslips. Those figures tell the places an employee could go to, and what he would eat, see and hear.

Those figures are there for a purpose. They measure one’s place in the hierarchy. One payslip can take you to a lounge, while another would be good enough for a diner.

They go even deeper to determine the routines employees have. The buses may be the same, the clothes similar, but one glance at the damn payslip can help one decide what breakfast he will have.

It is like an invisible force transcending the consciousness of man. One wishes to do this, be there, or have something at one particular time. Yet, one chooses not to, not because of want, but due to the power of that small piece of paper. And so the world is circumscribed, its attractions made scarce, while hopes remain plenty. If only the figures will be different, perhaps things will also be different.
I suppose it is the natural order of things. If everyone can afford to buy a car, traffic will not move anymore. Yes, we need order, we need peace, we need—payslips.

I do not mind. I work, and I get paid. I get what I deserve. I know what place to go to, what food to eat, and what things to buy. These may be less but they may not be more than what I can afford with my pay. It is the order to which I belong. I accept it, and live with it—until some realizations hit back.

The figures on the payslip are riddled with deductions: withholding tax, SSS, Medicare, etc. The figures are unforgivable: they add up to a big chunk of my salary. It stings and it stinks. It is like investing in imaginary trash. It hurts, but the government seems not to care.

The reports of corruption are not pleasing. Corruption is a limitation on one’s choices. Instead of steak, settle for fish. Instead of Europe, try Singapore. Instead of a BMW, go for a Toyota. One’s choices become limited because of some corrupt military officers or lawmakers or high government officials. They ought to feel guilty about it. It is my steak they eat, and my European trip that they and their family are enjoying. And yes, that BMW’s tail lights belong to me.

Look at the figures.

*Article was published in the Philippines Daily Inquirer YoungBlood section. The essay was written by Marc Anthony M. Peralta, a government employee.


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