irresistible tech, the human need for affirmation, and unequal partnerships (between me & Mahal)


item subject of negotiation, and the freebie beside it. read below for the full story please.

IN MY tiny, well-structured world, despite my old, dilapidated phone (four years old, a hand-me-down from Mahal; I’m not complaining), no one can convince me I need a brand-new replacement. It’s just too frivolous, luxurious, and expensive.

There are only three exceptions.

First, my generous fitness tracker (free, mapmyrun) encourages it.  Second, the South Asian sales guy I (inexplicably) trust at the mall tells me I would be crazy not to consider his one-day-only deal (I always fall for these things so I try not to listen too hard when I pass by the provider’s kiosk).

And here’s the clincher: when Mahal tells me it’s an unavoidable, ultimately inescapable deal to be doing.

And herein lies the rub: in most marriages between Pinoy husbands and the wives they adore, it is essentially an unequal partnership.  The lalake (guy) may profess to wear the pants, make the decisions, blah blah blah, but when the wife doubles down, cashes in her numerous IOUs (in Tagalog, makes those sumbat-sumbat from an atraso you incurred a month ago staining the immaculate new carpet), and otherwise throws her weight around, we menfolk essentially have no answer, other than the two words American husbands are famous for : Yes Dear.

But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.

*****          *****          *****

After two weeks of depressing windy-stormy-windy stretches, I woke up to a nearly perfect summer afternoon.  On days like this, sun in the center of the sky and no clouds (cumulus or nimbus) in sight, you forget that you lack sleep, you forget that your extremities are cramping and sore, you forget that you have yet-another night shift tonight, and you just step out of the shade and run like crazy.  Heat and being out in the sun makes you forget you have problems, when you are in a temperate zone.

So I’m out running, on my fourth kilometer, breathless but thrilled to be up and about when I should be sleepless, tossing and turning (the unexpected adrenaline might also be due to the lack of sleep) in bed, and five minutes away from having smelly underarms (another side-effect of intense summer days but worth it, if I’m gonna get my exercise) when the phone registers an incoming from an unknown number.

boing boing boing.  throwback rotary phone ringtone, oddly out of place from a smartphone. boing boing boing.

I don’t answer these calls, because, having worked in an outbound, soliciting call center back home, chances are this call is a solicitation, a survey call, or a call from the bank.  (The last one Mahal can handle, that’s why I obediently handed over my ATM to her diba?  🙂 )

(But it could be a Nigerian prince who might inform me I just won in their lottery and just a small transfer fee away from facilitating the process.  I’m a sucker for these promos.  Woohoohoo!)


good day Mr Noel, your wife wants to take advantage of my one-day-only deal, unlimited data, brand new (toot*, brandname of phone that everyone just HAS to have) phone, for just an extra $55 a month.  Will you authorise your wife? (trick question.)

that sounds good, but may I speak to my wife please?

(almost instantly Mahal is on the line.)  Love, kunin na natin. (Toot**, name of super-aggressive telecom provider) na ako diba?  sumali ka na sa akin, shared data tayo, pero isang bayaran lang.  tapos dagdag yung cost ng phone mo sa akin, extra $55 lang, modelo pa,  walang talo eh. ( I can feel her smile, and an even bigger grin on the salesguy’s, hanging on the phone.)

Naturally, I need to slow down.  You can’t think clearly about these things when you’re jogging.

sigurado ka kaya natin Mahal?  aalis na yung flatmate natin, walang sasalo ng share nya.

OK lang yon, may papalit agad.  matatapos na rin yung hinhulugan ko, kaya bababa pa cash out natin.

hmmm.  despite the short time elapsed, I could see that some discussion and haggling had transpired.

Love nabasa ko sa internet na kapag may decision kang di ka pa sigurado, it’s always best to use one day to think about it.  Wala namang mawawala diba?  (using all the tricks in the book to delay the inevitable.)

Then, as always, comes the clincher.

Love, bibigyan ako (notice the “tayo” becomes ako) ng libreng tablet! Walang bayad yon!

(kaya nga libre diba?)

*****          *****          *****

Well, that settles it.  Sabi ko sa inyo, when the final round of bargaining starts, Mahal, and many others like her (the wives) simply won’t take no for an answer.  Spark (oops, nabanggit ko rin yung telecoms provider) knows consumers can’t resist freebies like FREE TABLETS (gosh, could you Precious Reader resist that?), on top of spread-out instalment periods, shared unlimited data, ano pa hahanapin mo?

Honestly, all Mahal was asking me to do was fill her very human need for affirmation.

And tell you what, kabayan / Precious Reader.  Remember the unequal nature of our relationship?  The unequalness is directly proportional to how much we want to please our partner, till it hurts. 🙂

That means, without the tablet, without the shared data, and without the affordable instalments, I would’ve said, you’re the boss Mahal.

There’s always the exception to the rule.

Thanks for reading!

PS. Free Spotify pa!

*Korean brand  that sometimes bursts into flames

**Spark, but I told you that already right? 🙂







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