To date, not much has changed on how people interact with one another. Except for the appearance of new technology which the young generation, like the rest of the world, takes advantage of to communicate, most of the residents still talk in person whenever possible.
I had a lot of funny episodes about old (a bit older than me) people learning to use the new technology for the first time. Since I was one of the first to use a cellular phone back then, most of them saw me as an expert of sort. They gravitated to me when they got confused beyond the call feature.
There’s one story that took the cake so to speak. I was present when it happened, right behind the action.
A general assembly was at hand where the agenda was something about the approval of a particular quarry site. The groups of the pros and cons were present, their heated discussion made the occasion like a free-fall-all inside a wet market. I was there as an observer, invited by one of the opposition members.
On the row in front of me were the pros, older people who believed the earnings to be derived from the enterprise could help development possible. The lack of funding from the national government made their case strong on paper.
An older guy turned his head around and saw me restless in my seat: I wanted to go home to finish my field job for the day. The meeting was a rehash of older sessions since both parties could not agree on a compromise.
“Can you help me with this?” he asked, showing me his old model phone. “I can’t hear what the caller is saying.”
I was polite enough not to tell him frankly that what he needed was a hearing aid. The phone was functioning accordingly.
“You can use the speaker option. Adjust the volume to the level you are most comfortable with.”
A few minutes later, his phone rang. He answered it but to my surprise he did not follow my instructions.
The old woman beside him snatched the phone and turned the speaker on. Surely, she listened to our conversation earlier.
A female voice on the other line sounded too romantic. She was unaware that her every word was aired live.
I smelled trouble brewing.
“I don’t know her,” he protested, keeping his composure, noting the frowning faces around him did not believe his alibi. “Maybe she called the wrong number.”
“Is it just a coincidence that she referred to a man who has a similar name to yours?”
“Yes, that’s a possibility,” he replied, unable to look her straight in the eye.
“Do I look naive to you?” she raised her voice, getting the attention of more people in the audience. “If not for the young man here,” she nodded to me, “your philandering will still be a secret.”
He was cornered, continuing with his feeble defense was useless. Some of those present knew him too well not to side with him. He was the villain at that moment.
“Let’s go home and talk about this,” he pleaded, standing up and escorting his furious wife out of the hall. “You’re embarrassing us.”
I could not write here what she said, except all her shouting somewhat subdued the proceedings. People had something new to talk about. To that, almost everyone agreed.