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Being able to make someone smile gives one of the most invigorating good vibes. This experience of mine happened a few nights ago but I still have some hangover from it.

Last Thursday, I headed to the gym (located along Shaw Boulevard) and did my usual routine. My workout session ended at around 9:30 in the evening so it was already pretty late. I usually ride a cab when it’s already past 9:00 PM but that night, I was cash-strapped and I had to ride a jeepney. I hailed the first jeepney bound to Antipolo that passed by.

The jeepney was half-full when I got inside it. I sat in front of two girls who probably were on their way home from Jose Rizal University. I was in between a drunk old man and a man who probably has Bacteriophobia. As usual, I hugged my backpack with one arm and held on to the handle with the other.

I have this habit of observing the people around me whenever I’m alone. The two girls were chit-chatting happily, sharing with each other the things that happened that day. The drunk old man beside me was asleep, moving occasionally from side to side. The man to my right, as I’ve mentioned, was probably bacteriophobic since he was wearing a mask and surgical gloves.

The jeepney was getting filled up and when we crossed to the Ortigas Center side of Shaw Boulevard, it was pretty much full. I was pretty much surprised when a somewhat-chunky man entered and semi-forcibly plunked his body beside one of the two girls in front of me. Another guy entered and sat beside him.

Things were pretty much the same a few moments after — the girls were still chit-chatting, the old man beside me was still drunk, and the bacteriophobic dude was still wearing surgical gloves. Just before the rotunda near Meralco Avenue, the chunky man alighted the jeepney. At the mouth of Meralco Avenue right after going around the rotunda, the guy who boarded the jeepney after the chunky man asked the driver to stop but the driver just kept on going. When the driver finally stopped, the man hurriedly got out of the jeepney.

The jeepney driver didn’t move and we wondered why. Finally, he announced that the last two people who alighted the jeepney were snatchers and that we should check our belongings. My heart pounded like a drum after hearing that. I opened my bag and breathed a sigh of relief after seeing that my wallet, mobile phone, and laptop were still there. (After recalling the incident, it was actually dumb of me to think that the snatchers were able to get something from my bag given that I was hugging it and I was in front of them, haha!)

Sadly, the snatchers were able to steal the wallet of one of the two school girls. After realizing what just happened, the girl started to cry. Apparently, she was holding the funds for a school project and the funds were in her wallet. To make matters worse, the grossly insensitive conductor was saying that it was their fault since they were chatting too much. The drunk man beside me even made a comment that the driver and conductor were probably accomplices in what just happened. The other girl was already shouting at the conductor telling him to shut up instead.

Throughout the rest of the trip, the girl whose wallet got stolen was crying. Her friend was trying to comfort her but she just wouldn’t stop crying. The people around her was doing the same, saying that karma will take care of the thieves. I wanted to say something as well but I didn’t want to look like a pa-bida*. The drunk old man was still insisting that the driver and conductor were accomplices.

When we reached Ever Gotesco Ortigas, the girl was still crying. I couldn’t help but feel sad whenever I saw her face, cheeks wet with tears. Since I didn’t want to look like a pa-bida, I decided to give her a note instead. I took my note pad and wrote a note. I said that the most important thing was she was safe and unhurt. I also said that material things can be easily replaced and that she should just charge the whole thing to experience. I ended the note with a big smiley face.

I almost didn’t give the note to the girl because it seemed to be a wee bit embarrassing. When we went past Junction, I finally decided to hand it to her. I tore the page from my notepad, folded the note twice, and gave it to her. She actually motioned no using her hand but her friend took it and passed it to her. She finished reading the note just before I reached my stop. She took her handkerchief, wiped her eyes, and smiled. I smiled back with the most sincere smile that I could give, which probably still looked fake.

I alighted the jeepney less than 10 seconds after I smiled back at her. I stood still for a moment and watched the jeepney as it throttled towards Antipolo. I smiled thinking of what just happened then continued my way home.

* I really couldn’t think of an English equivalent for the word pa-bida. It’s someone who is somewhat a scene stealer.

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