When I was in college, I commuted everyday from our house in Tondo to the UP Diliman campus. It usually took me two hours on the road, one way. So that’s a total of four hours wasted everyday while waiting for jeepney rides, running after buses, and inhaling the carbon monoxide exhaust from the smoke belchers. Needless to say, even if I had left the house smelling fresh and cool from the morning shower, I would usually arrive in school two hours later all sweaty, smelling of smoke and virtually coated in soot and dust from head to toe. That was my daily routine. I happily endured it, all in the name of education.
During a particularly crowded day, together with several people I rushed towards a jeepney and squeezed myself into an available seat, unmindful of the people around me. I was intent on getting a seat, and that was all that mattered.
As soon as I sat down, to my horror I found that my bag had been unzipped and my wallet was missing. That was the first time that something like that happened to me, and I almost cried out in frustration. I couldn’t believe that someone would actually steal from a college student who only wanted to study hard and change the direction of her life for the better.
My wallet contained my UP ID card, some coins, and a 20-peso bill. That bill was supposed to be my “allowance” for the day.
I didn’t pay my fare. I’m not the type who would scream out and get everybody’s attention, so I kept to myself and remained silent all throughout the ride from Quezon Avenue to the UP Diliman campus.
I got off from the jeepney with a heavy heart. I was still in disbelief. While walking along the corridor in one of the pavilions, I met someone. He was not a close friend at all, in fact he was only someone I saw in class once in a while (if I noticed him at all). But for some reason, I found myself blurting out to him what just happened to me, and in the process, the tears started pouring down my cheeks.
What did I do to deserve it? I am not rich, I am just an ordinary commuter trying to get to school in time. Why else would I be taking the public jeepney, instead of riding in comfort in an air-conditioned family car like some of my classmates do? And that 20-peso bill was all I had. That was supposed to be my lunch for the day and transportation fare. No more, no less.
He just listened and looked at me while I was talking. However, his face was fraught with emotions, I guess perhaps he was trying to find the words to comfort me. I couldn’t remember what exactly he told me on that occasion, but I do remember that he didn’t badmouth the bastard (oopps, I just did right now haha) who took my wallet. He just nodded in understanding, and before I could say anything, he took out his wallet and handed me a 50-peso bill.
No. Just take it. He looked at me sternly and in his quiet gaze I knew that he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He took my hand and made me hold the money.
I was so grateful, I could have hugged him right then and there. Or maybe I did? I was so ecstatic. I promised to pay him as soon as I can.
Now that I look back at it, I wonder, was it divine providence that that person took my wallet on that day, so there would be an opportunity for me to have a glimpse of his kindheartedness? What started out as a disastrous day was completely turned around because of his generous gesture. To this day I could never forget that incident, and neither does he.
To this day I don’t remember if I had given him back his 50 pesos, but perhaps good ol’ Baggy doesn’t mind at all. 😉