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This is a bit of a boring technical post.

A field reps job is to act like a shadow manager helping the airline make the right decisions around maintaining and operating the engines they bought from us. Philippine Airlines had a total of 30 installed CF6-50 engines I think. 4 X 747s, 2 DC10s and 4 A300s. All the engines were the same basic configuration with the difference primarily being in the Main Engine Control rigging. Later in the "computer" generation reps would be responsible for hundreds of engines with multiple engine types - a degree of difficulty much higher. But this was 1985 and the world was a much bigger place.

I was assigned as a "shop rep." Just about every airline through the 90's wanted to have in-house overhaul capability and ability to enter the third party maintenance world. Giant concessions (purchase credits) were given when an airline bought engines and a lot of them negotiated things like a test cell ($20m) or shop tooling and assistance. In theory having your own shop could cut down the supply chain and one would have to purchase fewer spare engines.

At Philippine Airlines the CF6-50 would go less than 1,000 flights before needing an overhaul. For perspective the latest CF6-80C2 on the B747 could go 3-3500 flights and on a shorter range airplane like the B767 could do up to 7,000 cycles.

The engine production math is pretty simple. Divide the number of flights per year by 900, times the number of engines and you get the number of engine overhauls per year. Let's say "on average" PAL was flying 4 aircraft cycles a day - (4 X 365 X 30) / 900 = 48 engine overhauls a year. If the overhaul cycle is 60 days then 48 X 60 is the average days in process (AIP). Divide AIP by 365 and that tells you how many engines are in the shop at any given time = 8 engines. PAL had 10 spare engines so life should be good, right? No, of course not. Everyone plans for some wonderful Turn Around Time (TAT) but rarely achieve it. The logistics are daunting and PAL probably had a 90-100 day TAT, indicating a need for 12+ engines. This is AIP, there are "safety" factors applied to allow for production glitches but suffice to say PAL was always running along with zero spares with airline worst case scenarios of being grounded because there is no spare engine available.

GE at the time had a large leasing pool of engines where an airline could lease engines at exorbitant rates.

PALs capability at the time was also what we called a modular maintenance shop. They would send the major modules out for modular overhaul and disassemble and reassemble modules into engines. Except for the HPT. The HPT is the most expensive part of the engine. Highest tech and highest costs so PAL attempted to do this in house.

My job was to get into the shop and focus on how to get some spare engines together.

But first as an apprentice rep I had to earn my chops. I was first assigned to fill out "Component Change Records" and flight data as an intro to flight line operations. This was done via a Commercial Engine Service Report or CESM. There was a short form CESM on a 4 X 8 1/2 form that had like 4 copies with carbon paper copies. The long form CESM was 8 1/2 X 11 and was for major maintenance like an engine overhaul - very soon after my arrival we got carbonless CESM which was good but getting a legible print on the 5th layer was a chore. Every morning I would go to maintenance control and collect all the component change slips from a box, take them back to the office and write out in long hand all the components that were changed. It was real grunt work. Most of the changes were for sensors and ignition system parts but often there were MEC changes and other major components. Also a tremendous number of coffee makers were changed. Coffee pots had a nasty habit of catching fire a lot in the old days.

After 4 hours of writing reports I would put them all in a manila envelope and at lunch time drop them off at the post office to be sent to Cincinnati where a group of database ladies re-entered all this manual data into some IBM mainframe computer. This is where our component and engine statistics came from. In the afternoon I would hang out in the shop getting a feel for the place and building relationships with the shop guys. Mostly this was expediting new parts ordered from GE.

Every airline has a maintenance control. It is the heart of the operations. There is a flight board with all the aircraft listed and a time line of where the aircraft is and where it is going next. When a delay happens, in those days, the magnetic flight cards would be shuffled on the board among aircraft to reduce the impact of the delay that was inevitable - so an aircraft sitting on the ground for 3 hours to take the Hong Kong run might take the Brisbane run for the damaged plane and we'd hope we could fix the damaged plane before the HKG flight. We used to say that PAL INC. stood for "Plane Always Late, If Not Cancelled." If an engine change was going to happen in London then maintenance control was the place to keep apprised of everything that was happening.

The other thing in the maintenance control office was the trend charts. By mathematical calculations of the log book trend entries we could get an estimate of the engine's health. As an engine wears out the temperatures go up for a given thrust. Each take off can use a different thrust (called derate) depending on the gross weight of the aircraft, runway length and ground temperature. By using fancy math we could normalize all this to "Hot Day" conditions and plot certain parameters on graph paper starting from top to bottom. I've never been a "math guy" but I spent a lot of time manually calculating performance numbers both on wing and in the test cell.

There are a couple of engine limits. There are RPM limits for the fan and core rotors and there are temperature limits for the turbine. Fuel flow is a reference point. As the engine wears out naturally the EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) goes up. The redline is about 960*C and you are allowed 10 excursions slightly above this. Due to thermodynamics you can get a bloom in temperature at TO because the metals grow at different rates and clearances can change. For every 0.010" of clearance in a turbine the EGT can change by about 10DegC.

Of course as EGT goes up, fuel flow goes up. The other thing is the VSV and VBV systems. The blades and vanes if in a fixed position would give a fixed amount of pressure/compression per revolution. In order to make the engine operate over a broad range of speeds the compressor is designed to produce enough air to make TO power - The core engine being a fixed diameter pipe that can only pass so much air. At low speeds the compressor makes too much air and an engine stall can result. Pratt designed their engines to dump compressor air overboard. One of GE's brilliant founders designed the Variable Stator Vane system. Like a prop plane the pitch of the vanes is variable. At low speed the vanes are closed taking a smaller bite of air and at high speeds they open up to a coarser pitch. This is controlled by the Main Engine Control or MEC. The low pressure compressor attached to the fan also produces too much air and in the case of the fan GE also had a Variable Bypass Valve system which was a series of doors on the fan that opened up and dumped air from the core flow into the bypass flow.

The pilot needed to be oblivious to all this so GE based thrust on fan speed. If the fan was turning at X speed then take off power was assured. But the fan and the core were not coupled. There was an aerodynamic relationship. The more fan speed you wanted the more core speed, or technically core flow you needed.

As the engine wore out you needed more core engine speed to achieve a given fan speed due to sealing losses, so N2 (shorthand for core rotor) speed went up and the VSVs operated more closed allowing the core to spin faster - kinda like 1st gear vs. 4th gear in a car. But there was an N2 speed limit and you could get core speed limited. The solution was to open the VSV schedule to get more air at a lower rpm - but this is like starting you car in 4th gear and a stall can happen so it was a limited tool. Generally to get more air you closed the VSVs a little and let the RPM run higher. Fortunately unless the compressor was damaged the engine reached EGT limits before N2 limits.

All of this magic happened in the MEC. A Rube Goldberg hydro-mechanical device of some very clever stuff. The hydro was jet fuel. The mechanical devices were a couple of governors and a magical 3 dimensional cam that set the locations of the valving and so on. It took inputs from temperature senders and pressure senders to adjust the fuel flow based on what the engine temps and pressures were doing. There were idle speed adjustments, "part power" adjustments and Max Continuous adjustments as well as a "rig plate." The rig plate basically adjusted for different variants of the engine and/or the components in the engine. As the engine evolved there were a bunch of rig plates. The procedure was to put a pin in the throttle pulley in the cockpit and a pin in the pulley at the pylon to ensure the throttle cable was rigged right and then using a screwdriver adjust the rigging so that a target line was lined up against a certain point on the rig plate.

So part of my job was to get the log book transcripts and update the trend charts. Later GE developed some circular slide rules that made the calculations a lot quicker.

In the afternoon we would look at each engine trend. Rising EGT and fuel flow coupled with declining N2 would indicate an engine wearing out. A step change in parameters could indicate something in the engine broke and it is time to have a look inside with a borescope. It was very common to ingest debris in the compressor or birds causing damage to the compressor, loss of efficiency and high EGT. It was also common in high time engines for the turbine to start burning up and cracking.

We were expected to know a lot and make decisions on our own but we were not alone. At headquarters every customer was assigned an Airline Technical Programs Manager (ATPM) and a Customer Support Manager (CSM) the CSM was the business guy handling all nature of claims, issues and business problems. The ATPM was the technical lifeline. When you didn't know the answer you sent a message to the ATPM and hopefully the next day he sent an answer back.

This wasn't the days of text messages and computers. The fax machine hadn't even been invented yet. We typed messages into a telex/teletype machine that created a ticker tape. Then we loaded that into the ticker reader, dialed a number, turned on the print function and hit send when the connection went through. The printed record would go in a file and be matched up with an answer or answers and kept for reference.

The telex machine and Philippine phone system was a constant source of trouble. It is well known that Mike Anderson - John's predecessor at PAL walked out of our office on the mezzanine floor of the PAL hanger carrying the telex machine to the top of the stairs and chucking it overboard. The reps in those days were the epitome of "white privilege" and we were rarely questioned about our craziness. As my buddy Jeff would later say we were like fire gods - knowing the unknown secrets of the universe.

But we had Gods we looked up to. Johnny Dodge was our ATPM. He was the male equivalent of Millie Bacon. He was about 900 years old and knew everything. He was a heavy smoker and drinker, was about 5' 8", skinny as hell with perfectly white hair and a mouth full of dentures. No ATPM suffered fools well and they were quick to point out guys that couldn't cut it. If an ATPM didn't have the answer he had access to the entire engineering department of specialists to dig up answers.

Johnny loved to come to Manila. He would wear a Barong Tagalog and as soon as he arrived in the office he'd want to go tot he airplanes and get involved. Airplanes would be in the hanger for a scheduled check and a BSI - Johnny would whip off his Barong leaving only his wife beater and stick his eye in a turbine blade borescope. "Oh, shit. That bitch is burnt to fuck. It's only got a half a fucking cycle left!" - a half a cycle indicating it would take off and blow up in flight. He would then go into maintenance control, find the trend where EGT was going up and N2 was going down, drawing a diverging set of lines on the graph. "Look at that fucking whore with her legs spread apart. That engine is fucked!"

The manuals are arranged in a chapter verse system agreed upon by the Airline Transport Agency or ATA. You can locate everything by it's ATA code. For example the compressor rotor was Chapter 31. In general the on-wing chapters of simple stuff to keep the engine running was in Chapter 72(engine)-00(engine level)-31(compressor chapter) and sub chapters for the various components like blades and disks and bolts and air screens (remember those). For the in depth or shop stuff it would be 72-31-XX getting nitty gritty on repairs to the components.

The stupidest one could feel is to send Johnny a telex that was thoughtful, intelligent and clear and wait patiently the 12 hours it took to sleep in Manila and answer a question in Cincinnati only to receive back, "72-00-31-XX-YY. RTFM!" Which basically said, "Here's the chapter, paragraph and verse where the answer is. Read the Fucking Manual"

The ATPM community is also close nit as they all sat in cubes of 4 guys. I had a protoge called Pat Pogue. He was a real piece of work and way more confident in himself than he should have been. For context the engine cowling encompassed the Fan Reverser - the cowl would translate back, raising blocker doors in the flow path and through turning vanes direct the air forward. The reverser was like a big balloon in two halves - they rolled back separately but when pressurized they came together at the bottom and "bump stops" on each half mated together to take the load. Imagine the bumpers on a train. very similar looking. The reverser system was another Rube Goldberg piece of work, very complex. But one thing was pretty simple. The manual said when rigging the bump stops the static gap should be about the size of a pea.

Well I was on a trip to Cincinnati and Pat was home alone. I think PAL was fucking with him because they definitely knew how to rig reversers. Anyway they asked what size pea and Pat wanting to know the airspeed velocity of a swallow and how many coconuts one could carry drafted a message for Johnny. However he took the opportunity to explain how terrible the manual was and confusing and so on.

So when Johnny gets the telex, he tosses it to Clarence Hitchcock. Clarence was the reverser expert and had responsibility for writing the manual in terms of rigging and maintenance.

I am sitting in the CSMs office and the phone rings. I hear with no speaker phone, "Who is this Pat fucking Pogue and who does he think he is and should I call Schneider to find out what kind of dickheads we are hiring into field service or what." Clarence was hilarious and a real expert. KT, the CSM, said, "Glad you called. Dan Deutsch is here in my office and he is on the way to you." Thanks KT. I go down and the bullpen is laughing and devising a response to Pat. Once they realize he is a newbie and not connected to anyone politically the fun begins.

I would never do Clarence's response justice but it probably had to do with parentage, having any kids who lived and whether the parents might have been cousins. Clarence even suggested that the range of pea size when rigging a 9 foot diameter reverser might not be so fucking critical and if one had half a brain one could figure it out."

It was a good enough response that when I got back Pat asked me if he was gonna get fired. I told him probably but not this week and told him how I laid on my sword for him and he owed me big time. Fucking with people was a fun part of the job. Pat never did learn his lessons though. He seemed to like "getting hit on the head lessons" he finally jumped ship to work for Aloha Airlines and was just as stupid as a customer as he was as a rep;

So when in doubt - RTFM MF"

Here is a schematic for the CF6-50 MEC. It was a complicated bit of kit but there were only a few adjustments that could be made on it. Computerization with later engines made rigging knowledge obsolete. Two of my old time buddies, Tim Clark and Tom Kirwan are based at FedEx. Cargo companies take the oldest planes used and fly them forever. FedEx finally got rid of their last CF6-6 and still operate the CF6-50. I think Tim Clark is the only guy left in the world that can rig a CF6-50 MEC and/or reverser.

There are ATA chapters for everything on the airplane. A lot of airlines and airplane makers view the engine guys as simply the largest "Line Replaceable Unit" (LRU) on the airplane. Of course while technically true the engine is probably the only component that stays on wing and gets all kinds of maintenance done to extend its life. Not like a brake or an actuator or an autopilot computer and so on.

Begrudgingly the aircraft makers know that the engine can be the key factor as whether an airplane is successful or not.

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On the first day of work John's wife, Estrelle showed up with a late model Mitsubishi Lancer. John said, "This is Estrelle and we rent our cars from her." At this time I think the car plan was that we paid $175 a month and GE provided a late model rental to drive. Estrelle of course made a good side hustle as our car renter. She was also a Philippine Airlines Stewardess and made big bank, like most flight crew smuggling crap into and out of the Philippines. The big export was US dollars and gold. The big import being anything of value for sale. US currency was strictly controlled and you had to have a permit to take any but the smallest amounts out.

I ended up crashing 3 cars for Estrelle, primarily because I was irresponsible but also because Manila traffic was crazy and not all 3 crashes were my fault. After the second car she had me over to their house and she had the family priest bless the car in the hopes that God would protect the car from me, I suppose. It was funny to participate in with the hood and trunk open and a priest splashing holy water on the car before circling it with one of those incense balls intended to exorcise demons, I guessed. That was a great car. It was a little older but it was a Galant which is roomier than the Lancer and bit faster and sportier. It didn't last long...

The next thing I needed was an apartment and John set me up with an agent. In those days it was common to pay 1 year's advance rent. Expatriate compensation was very complicated and there were always arguments about what is "fair." As a single 23 year old guy, I paid GE something like $7500 a year and GE provided housing. The norms got tightened up over the years but in 1985 in Manila what I rented was dependent on what John reckoned I should have.

The other 2 reps there were married but had no kids. Older folks and they both lived in a gated community called Forbes park. They had massive houses with maids and drivers (GE didn't pay for house help, of course) I didn't want a house with all the maintenance but I did find a really cool bachelor pad on the corner of Edsa and Ayala avenue. It was in one of 2 towers, had 3 bedrooms and a wet bar, each apartment taking up half a floor. It had a panoramic view all the way to Manila Bay and I thought it was awesome. Unfortunately it was on the "North" corner of EDSA and Ayala, "Nah. We never get apartments on the north side of Ayala. That's gonna be terrible traffic. You don't want that" according to John. So I ended up in Greenbelt Tower, walking distance to Sam's place on the 4th floor, I think.

Here's a google map of my commute to work at the west service road of the airport. It's hilarious that google calls it a 15 minute commute. I used to follow the grey route back to my apartment and often would abandon my car along Ayala avenue due to traffic. Later I would rib John about how he screwed me on housing. It would always have been quicker to get to the twin towers - LOL.

The next year I would move into a townhouse in Magallanes which was a much better commute and there were a couple of pubs in the strip area near there to catch a beer. But Greenbelt was a good starting point for me as Sam and I hooked up every weekend to go to bars. Sam also moved into Magallanes when I did so we were always neighbors.

The next thing I needed was furniture. GE had what was called Household Consignment furniture. You could ship your furniture and there were allowances for that but I had no furniture and so I took advantage of HHG consignment. The HHGC furniture was rarely new. By the time I got there I think there were 4 families worth of stuff in storage. John told me to have all the stuff delivered to my apartment, pick out what I wanted/needed and then they would trash the rest. I should have known it would be a bunch of old crap collected from several reps gone by. Two 6 wheel 20 foot trucks showed up each with a 20 foot crate on top. The first side was dropped off and the first thing I found was an empty crate of San Miguel beer bottles. Apparently Mike Anderson and his family of 5 packed in the middle of a typhoon and the last thing to dispose of was the empty beer bottles.

The furniture was very basic. Lots of wicker and rattan crap. The beds were plywood platform beds with 2 inch foam mattresses and most of it was junk. Broken lamps, mirrors and so on. The worst thing was that every mattress, even the master bed had pee stains on them. Mike had small kids... There were no cell phones or cameras, of course so you didn't document this stuff. I ended up selecting enough furniture to get started but had a slight showdown with John over the mattresses. The idea was the HHGC was going away in Manila and he didn't want to spend any money on new stuff. John finally agreed to new foam mattresses and I had furniture.

The final piece was to get my air shipment. Having chosen HHGC I was also allowed one D container of personal goods. A d container being a standard container, shaped like a D that fits in 1/2 the belly of an airplane. So John sends me to customs with the agent and like everything in the Philippines it was a zoo with its own rules. The key to getting your stuff is a forklift driver. They control the boxes. So the agent slides 2000 pesos to a forklift driver and we go to the "first" customs agent. 2,000 pesos later with paperwork "chop" in hand we locate the forklift driver with the box and the agent finds an inspector. This guy got a bottle of scotch and 5,000 pesos to put his signature and stamp on the box. About $450 later my box is put on a truck to the apartment and I meet the drivers who deliver the box to the apartment tipping them 100 pesos each.

Of course all this came out of my pocket at first and I then had to do an expense account. Basically with no receipts I fill out an expense account, enter 1 line for $450 and call it customs fees. This gets sent to Millie and her crew who understand the game all over the world and eventually I get paid back. By this time I am burning through money. I had a cash advance, of course but as I mentioned I had little of my own money. I had expenses for bars, customs, gas and of course the big one was the hotel bill.

Near the end of the month, I confess to John that I didn't have no $2,000 when I left the US and after his grumbling we went on a road trip to GE Philippines. So there were a couple ways to get money in those days before ATMs. First you went to American Express and they would give you $1,000 USD in travelers checks every month. You would take the (unsigned) travelers checks to the money changer and they would give you pesos. A better rate than the bank but not as good as $100 bills. Everyone wanted the Benjamins. The second way was to go to GE Philippines, write them a check and they would give you pesos at about the bank rate. So John and I pull up to GEP go in and John writes a check for $2,000 and I walk away with 40,000 pesos.

When Millie and the girls do my paycheck I am in fat city. I got a transfer allowance of a couple grand, hardship pay, location premium and Cost of Living Allowance. COLA was always interesting. Basically some company would buy a "market basket" of goods in a particular city. Those prices were compared to the same market basket in the US and a differential was calculated. The thing was you couldn't get half the stuff in the market basket and the shoppers only shopped at stores catering to the really wealthy. We all bought durable stuff like clothes while on leave in the US. Bottom line was that everyone mad out like bandits for a lot of years with COLA.

As I settle into life in Manila my usual Saturday routine was to go to the roof top of the apartment and do laundry while reading a book and recovering from a hangover. There were about 6 washer and dryers and a few clothes lines. Every weekend I would go to the roof and every weekend about 6 maids would gather across the roof near the clothes lines and whisper and giggle. It was clear they were talking about me. There were like clones. They were all tiny and all dressed in the same white frock/shift that buttoned up the front.

On the second week a maid shyly and nervously approached and asked, "Sir. Can I wash your clothes?" - And in big voice American style I say, "No. There is no need. I always do my own laundry." On the second week it happened again. I knew that Gene, one of my work mates had 3 maids and a driver. I didn't ask what he paid them because having househelp was a completely foreign concept to me. Thankfully they were persistent as on the 3rd week I asked, "Well how much would it cost to do my laundry?" - "20 pesos, sir." - Wait, WTF? That's like $1! I think that was the last time I did laundry for the next 16 years. It's crazy to say that one gets used to having their underwear ironed - LOL...

It was a short jump to have one of these regular girls doing my laundry and cleaning my apartment once a week on their day off.

With a place to live, money in the bank and a girl doing my laundry it was time to figure out the job.

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As the PanAm 747 descended into Manila I looked out on an old dirty looking city. Immediately surrounding the city are rice paddies and I am reminded of Vietnam era movies. The door opens and a hot rush of humid air enters the cabin. The airport is crowded for sure and I go through immigration without a hitch. I am arriving on a 90 day tourist visa. The baggage claim was unbelievable. There were bags and boxes everywhere piled up to the ceiling. I was to learn that Christmas was a huge migration deal for Filipino foreign workers and they bought and brought everything they could. The baggage claim was full of people but as near as I could tell they were all travelers. There were tons of guys with blue vests and "porter" embroidered on the back. Remembering John's advice that everyone wanted to steal your stuff I decided to hump my own bags after finding the last unused baggage cart in the whole place. Suddenly John rocked up. I was to learn later that the reps had complete airport access including the customs areas.

John ushered me to the customs line and told me he would see me outside. Once I passed into the arrival hall it was mass humanity on another level. It was shoulder to shoulder with touts, taxi touts, food vendors, travelers and the extended family of travelers. The driveway was a sea of cars with horns blaring and no one moving much. It is really hot and really humid and by now I am sweating like crazy. John led me towards a car and a well dressed older guy in a barong tagalog (Filipino dress shirt) reached for my bag. I literally slapped his hand while jerking away and John said, "What are you doing? He's the driver!" Wait, what? Drivers? Who has drivers? Apparently everyone. So with bags loaded John bundles me into the car and says, "OK. Go to the hotel, check in and relax. I will pick you up for work on January 2nd." John jumps into another car and I don't see him for 5 days while the driver delivers me to the hotel. Filipinos love their holidays and Christmas/New Years is a big 2 week+ shut down for just about everyone.

The hotel was nice and the room was nice. I stayed close to the hotel venturing out bit by bit. I eventually found a small mall and was just walking around with a X on my back as a tourist who didn't know anything when I was approached by a young guy and we got to chatting. Of course in my naiveite I fell for his pitch. Apparently there was a cool party to go to and he would go buy tickets and pick me up at the hotel. I gave him the equivalent of like $40 and of course never saw him again - little did I know how much $40 USD was worth but for a laborer it was more than two months salary. I knew at the time I gave him the money there was a risk and as I walked back to the hotel I was sure of it. I did wait in the lobby on the off chance but no joy. New years came and I ended up watching huge firework displays all over the city from my room. By 3am the entire city smelled of Sulphur and a black cloud hung over everything.

The first couple of days at work there was not much going on. The first was a Wednesday and most of the staff were off until the following Monday. John showed me the office and introduced me around to maintenance control and more importantly the other company reps. I met the Boeing guys, the Airbus guy and Sam Lee. Sam invited me to go out Friday and I gladly accepted.

Sam picked me up about 10pm and drove to Mabini Street. This was the red light district and comprised a number of small streets and alleys. We just called it Mabini. As a 23 year old single guy it was like Disneyland for degenerates. There must have been 100 bars mostly the same but many having a theme. They all had dance floors and dancers in bikinis with poles and mirrors. I think a San Miguel beer was about 25 pesos and a girl's drink was 40 pesos. 40 pesos was about $2.

The bar scene in Asia is a big part of my story so maybe some context is in order. Prostitution and nude dancing were illegal in Manila. The girls got hired at a club to dance and be hostesses. They received a portion of a girl's drink so the big thing was to get the guys buying them drinks. If a girl wanted to leave work early she had to pay a fine to the bar - a bar fine. If she made private arrangements with a customer then that was her business. The bar fine in those days was about 300 peso or about $15.

Was there exploitation? Absolutely. Working in a bar and being a prostitute is driven by poverty. There are few girls that dream of being a pole dancer and sleeping with men for money. Over the years I got to know a lot of the girls personally and developed a deep empathy for most of them. I never asked a girl to go home that didn't ask me first but maybe that isn't an excuse either. All I know is that pumping the money I did into the system probably fed a lot of people. People from the countryside would send their daughters to Manila to get a job. Many reported to their parents that they were secretaries and what not and no one at home asked how a secretary could send home $200 a month when a secretarial salary was like <$100 a month. Forget the fact that most of these girls had little to no education.

Sam took me to all his favorite places and he seemed to know a lot of the girls and bartenders. Sam was a bit of an introvert and had a wry sense of humor. He spent a lot of time chatting up the bartenders. Bartenders were different. They must have made decent money because they rarely went with customers. They were also usually pretty smart and better conversationalists. any of them also did the books so I guess it was a challenge to date one of them. It was a bit weird but one had to cultivate a relationship with a bartender. Most all the girls had a dream of getting into a relationship with a regular and hopefully getting married. In my early days it wasn't unusual to be having a conversation with a girl only to have her jump up and run to her "regular" when he walked into the bar.

The girls would get very possessive about their regulars and there were often shouting matches and swear words when one girl perceived another trying to poach her guy. It was hard not to get tagged as someone's guy and I tried to avoid it as much as possible. I was there to listen to the usually really good music, drink some beers and blow off some steam. I like not being cornered.

OTOH - I found it crazy when a couple of (drunk) guys would get into a fight over a girl. There were girls everywhere but maybe that's the nature of guys. There was too much fun to be had to get into a bar fight over a girl even if the girls sometimes manipulated these situations.

Of course running referee were the mama-sans. They kept peace and order, collected the bar fines and settled what disputes they could with the customers. It was an hourly occurrence that some drunk bar goer thought he was getting ripped off over one thing or another. Getting "ripped off" was a subjective thing to me. Everyone was poor and everyone was on the hustle. I never got robbed the entire time in Asia but I treated people with respect and never argued over a few bucks.

Anyway, Sam gave me lesson one in the bar scene and I got home pretty drunk and wanting to go again. I had already gotten my rental car (more on that later) and I decided to drive myself there on the Saturday. I am sure Sam would have willingly gone again so I don't really know why I went on my own other than being an explorer. In the days of no GPS I always had the habit of driving around a lot in the first weeks so that I could find out where stuff was.

The map below shows the route from my eventual apartment to Mabini. The hotel wsa just south east of there on Ayala Avenue. The long northwest stretch was South Super Highway. I had paid attention to Sam driving there and found Mabini. I proceeded to get pretty shit faced and around 2 am I was pretty much out of money and really drunk.

I get in the car and attempt to retrace my steps but I the small stretch circled is a one way street going west and I could not remember how Sam got back. So I risk it and go down the one way street the wrong way. as soon as I turned left a motorcycle cop runs out in front of the car and waves me down. He is dressed in the white uniform, knee boots and leather sash of a motorcycle cop and was probably 5" 2" - A really little guy and quite portly.

"Excuse me sir. You made a violation!"

"Oh. I did not know I am really sorry."

"Sir can you step out of the car?"

"Look I really can't. I am really drunk and it's hot out there."

"Oh my Gods, sir. You cannot drive while drunk. That is a big problem!"

"Oh. I don't like problems. Is there anything I can do."

"You have to pay a fine and if you want you can pay your fine to me."

"OK how much is the fine?"

"100 pesos!"

"How about 50 pesos." - I had learned enough in a week that everything is negotiable in the Philippines. A smart, sober guy would have paid the $5 and taken a taxi home. I was none of those things.

"OK, sir. 50 pesos" - I looked in my wallet and I had a 100, a 20, a 10 and a 5.

"Oh, no. How about 35 pesos?" - He of course observed my money and immediately snapped back.

"No problem, sir. I can make change." - So I hand over the 100 pesos and he literally runs down the street to a little gedunk (small roadside store) and comes back with 50 pesos change.

"Have a good evening sir and drive safely." I literally could not stand up out of the car and he sends me on my way. Disneyland for degenerates. Say what you want about Manila cop corruption, at least they have integrity - LOL...

I told Sam what happened and he (of course) told me I got ripped off by the cop. That was part of the craziness. We'd go and drop $200 in the bars and then argue with a taxi driver about the fare being 30 pesos or 40 pesos to take us to Makati like the 10 pesos was really gonna matter. It was true in a way because traffic was so crazy it was almost impossible to get around without making "violations" - Lane grabbing was cutting someone off but it could mean anything a cop wants to get paid for. It was often normal to be in the third lane of a 4 lane street and make a right turn across the right two lanes of gridlocked traffic. Inevitably there would be 4-6 motorcycle cops there. Often you were stopped for like 10 seconds as you hand over your 20 pesos. It was a crazy violation because literally everyone did it.

After my intro to Philippine night life it was time to figure out how to live here and find out what it is a rep does.

Typical Manila "Trappic!" - Like some Tetris game cars fill spots until no one can move. On many occasions I left my car within a couple of blocks of home and went to a bar until 10 or 11pm when I could get the car home.

This is also typical - Pedestrians spilling into the street competing for limited spaces on Jeepneys, traffic wardens in yellow vests and cars filling up almost every available spot of tarmac. Manila went to an "odd plate" "even plate" system for a while. The rich bought a second car and the well to do bought a second plate. Unless you had the patience of Job Manila trafic could drive you nuts.

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