October 30, 2012

The 711 Allegory: A Matter of Convenience

A Japanese 7-11 store at night

People like convenience stores. It's always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can just go in confidently knowing you can buy the things you need without having to stress yourself the deprivation of not having. It's there and it's convenient. No worries, no headaches. Because of it, you take it for granted. You don't mind it nor do you put great importance to its existence, to think that without that convenience store, you'd be stuck soapless, soda-less, load-less, food-less for the rest of the night.  Perhaps that's why people don't appreciate 711 or really put their loyalty into it- because it is there. It's not like Coke and Pepsi, or McDonalds and Jollibee, or Globe and Smart, wherein people fight over it, or protest over it, because such stores can not elicit passion among the people mainly because it's being taken for granted. It's like thinking about 711 becomes an afterthought.

I wonder how people would react if one day 711 and the like would suddenly close shop and never to open again? It's a horrible parallel scenario however paradoxical it may be. No more bags of ice or cold sodas for instant gatherings, no more chips for that sudden hunger pangs. It's scary but it's possible.

And a lot of times relationships can become like a 711 convenience store. People take people for granted knowing they will be there. Children take parents for granted thinking they'll grow old with them. Friends take friends for granted knowing they'll be there with a just a SMS away.  Mentors take students for granted confident that the latter would always be beholden to the higher man, couples take each other for granted thinking one cannot fall out of love.  Spouses take each other for granted feeling as if their marriage is permanently etched in stone no matter how abusive the relationship becomes.

Well, sad to say, regret is the opposite of foresight, and termination is the realization that such debacle cannot go on.  Many ended in a downward spiral mainly because the "relationship of convenience"  become so entrenched that previous tolerance to it dissipates entirely.  At the end of the spectrum, the "conveniencer" thinks that this kind of group dynamics is already banal, hence, he or she is not aware or sensitive enough to its existence, while the "conveniencee" continues to tolerate the dissipation of group dynamics that when it already has reached a point of no return, it will snap him or her to realize that such relationship is unhealthy.  Only when the "conveniencee" buys him- or herself an ounce of self-esteem and self-dignity can he or she realize and stop the cycle of abuse. Parents would remind kids of responsibility and threaten to cut off any monetary support, wives would threaten husbands of divorce, students would complain, and friends would tell friends enough is enough.  Sometimes it's only when people love themselves more that they can stand up on their two damn feet.

So, the moment one has brought this cat out of the bag is when it becomes complicated.  The "conveniencer" may think you're merely over-acting and being too demanding. If that person is able to realize that he or she is treading on delicate ground, then assuaging and allaying the issues at hand may set the boiling point a few degrees back. It's really doubtful it will set the temperature to zero.  It's like shaking a container of oil and water; though it will go back to its separate levels, but never again it will have that same clean-cut separation.  If pride and/or ignorance continue to be the blocks that make the "conveniencer" difficult to move, then the "conveniencee" may take drastic actions to prove his/her point.  Perhaps that's why after failed counseling comes forth divorce or failed reconciliation comes forth bitter goodbyes.

However, if people would find common ground between those lines of separation, then only perhaps then  can they make a possible arrangement. It is doubtful that things would return to the way it was before.  As we grow old, we tend to eschew the drama of it all.  Unlike the movies where in just one episode tempers flare up and in the next, all is well, real life tends to be more low-key and more vicious. In this Asian culture of ours whereby overt manifestation of temper is looked down upon, the "conveniencer" has to be more attuned to the subtle misgivings of the other person. For if you can't comprehend its logic (because you're too stupid to know it) and its dangers (because you're too thick-skinned), then it may be just the ticket to push everything into the deep fryer. Then when it's over and done for, both parties might as well go home and sleep it over. It's because tomorrow shall be a new day and a new chapter of their lives.

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