break from our regular programming

Twice in the span of four months I witnessed a hold-up with my very own eyes. Twice the act happened inside a jeepney, twice it involved the robber threatening the life of the victim with a sharpened metal, and twice I felt some sort of guilt because twice I felt it should have been me.

First was sometime in March somewhere along Espana boulevard. It was 7:30 in the morning. I was seated farthest to the driver (my favorite spot), near the entrance. I had my earphones on and my iPod touch was inside the pocket of my blouse, the least secure place to put a gadget in. A student was in front of me texting. Halfway through Espana, a guy sat down beside me. Pardon my prejudice but I remember being paranoid at that time because he did look like someone who might commit a crime. Throughout our journey though, he didn’t do anything so I let my guard down and even asked forgiveness from God for judging this person by his looks. Before I knew it, he was crouching at the student in front of me, one hand holding a knife to the poor guy’s fingers, the other firmly gripping the cell phone while saying “Akin na yang cellphone mo”. Of course the student, shocked, gave it. The most irritating part was the robber going down the jeepney and walking casually as if nothing happened. Meanwhile, the other passengers (Filipinos as we are), began talking about their insights and observations and “I-knew-its” of the event and one of them said “siya (pointing at me), yung katabi diba? Bakit hindi siya yung ninakawan?”. And really, my iTouch was on the same side as the snatcher. If I had put it out just to adjust the volume or change the song, the victim could have been me.

The second incident happened a while ago at around 8 PM. It was raining hard. Marcius, Prinz and I were in a jeepney bound for Taft Avenue. Marcius got off at Morayta and Prinz and I were conversing when his seatmate suddenly pushed him against his seat, blocked his movement with his body and pointed a long, rusty, sharp ice pick on his neck. I was dumbfounded. Never have I been that dumbfounded in my life. The robber grabbed Prinz’ phone and my friend, on instinct, held it back. The guy threatened him with a voice that meant exactly what it said while pulling the iPhone 4S out of his hands. He went down the jeepney and stopped for a bit because it was raining hard before crossing the street. Prinz wanted to go after him but I held him back because I was scared and I know that despite the strong exterior, he was scared too. For the next few seconds we just stared at each other because we needed to digest what just happened. He was shocked while my fingers trembled despite my brain willing for them to stop. After we both recovered, we went through the series of events again for that’s the only thing we can do since the phone was already lost, to be combined and sold with all the other snatched phones. And there I was thinking, it should have been my ancient Nokia and not an iPhone for screaming out loud, the loss would have been barely palpable.

Lessons:

Sometimes, looks are not deceiving for they are an exact representation of a person.

The number of snatchers roaming the streets of Metro Manila is directly proportional with the rain.

Don’t ever ever put your cellular phone out when riding freaking jeepneys, your textmates can wait.

Laughter is one of the best ways to comfort a friend. Another is presence.

When you are placed in a similar situation, it’s quite hard to be thankful that it’s not you while being sympathetic of the person wronged.

Instead of cursing the criminal, thinking that he is in dire need of money and hoping that the moolah he gets from your phone will be used for important things (i.e. hospital bill of a loved one, etc) will help you feel better. Hope you become positive enough to think that way.

Lastly, it’s just a gadget and it’s nothing compared to your life. You’ll get through the loss, eventually.

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