(This is a work of fiction. Or not.)
She started it.
She stepped on my left foot, without even asking permission, or, for that matter, without even introducing herself.
Not that I was interested at all in finding out who she was.
Except that if I was going to let her Italian stillettoes get away with drilling into my Chinese-made moccassins, she had better make sure that one, we knew each other; two, that we were on good terms; and three, that she offer an apology for the intrusion, however unintended.
But none of these terms were complied with.
All I knew was that she was the staffer of one of the senators and she was marching up and down, to and fro, like a factory supervisor antsy about a delivery deadline.
This was no factory though.
This was the Senate gallery during the 42nd day of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
As was my luck, I was within the very same premises, which was packed tight, like gunpowder in a stick of dynamite.
The air was tense, emotions ran high, and I was about as nervous as a freshly-made pot of coffee.
On that day, as I felt my heart palpitate to the tune of the drum solo in Van Halen’s Jump, I felt that something was very likely going to explode.
It turned out to be the temper of the woman who, of all people, stepped on my left foot.
“Puñeta,” she burst out, as she struggled to regain her balance. “Your foot is in the way.”
An hour before the proceedings, I had squeezed myself, my MacBook, and my BlackBerry—all in silent mode—into a small corner to cover the event as inconspicuously as possible.
Had I gone any closer to the walls, they would have cried harassment (hopefully, the non-sexual kind).
So where did this woman get off telling me that I had accidentally tripped her?
I didn’t intend to find out.
I wasn’t about to create a scene that may attract the attention of the Senate Sgt.-At-Arms, who was authorized to escort anyone out who disrupts the proceedings. I was there to cover the proceedings for my favorite news website and, broadly speaking, as a witness to history.
I never thought I would witness something else entirely.
Immediately after her outburst, she glared at me, perhaps expecting an apology.
No can do, Ma’am, I said to myself as I joined her in a staring contest.
“You,” I said, right index finger pointing downward, “stepped on my foot.”
Without a word, she turned her back on me and continued to move around.
Later, undeterred by the incident, the woman was all over the place again—like billboards, secondhand smoke, and with all due respect to God, God.
Meanwhile, I ignored her and no longer demanded an apology, Your Honors.
After all, I was used to women treating me like a fine, quality product of the Acme Doormat Co.
Turned out later I wasn’t the only one who had a similar encounter with her.
Another staffer of another senator told me he had a minor run-in with her months ago, also at the same gallery.
She had an attitude problem, he told me.
Since we both had a shared grievance, we traded numbers and later, he offered to do me a small favor.
Talk about depending on the kindness of strangers.
But that, as they say, is another story altogether.