Late at night last week. I had just finished a short run at the UP Acad Oval and was standing in line behind a couple in front of Vinzon’s Hall waiting for a Philcoa jeepney. The whole place was quiet, the air had that clean, just-rained feel, and there aren’t that many people about.
Then, an old man took his place in line behind me, and since I was facing the direction where the jeep would be coming from, I had my profile to him. After a couple of moments, he spoke to me. Warily, I removed my earbuds so I could hear what he was saying.
“Taga-saan ka?” he asked. He looked like your typical kindly, stooped old man.
“Teachers’ Village po,” I answered.
“Ah nagre-rent ka doon?” he said. At least he didn’t ask me where in Teachers’ Village.
“Opo,” I said, wondering if I should put my earbuds back in place.
Then he said something I didn’t quite catch, something about Macapagal-Arroyo and Aquino. Something about Aquino winning, I think. I just nodded, not wanting to be drawn into a political discussion with a strange old man.
Then, without a word, he turned around, and walked away. He was clutching what looked like hotdog sandwich in a bun, wrapped in transparent plastic. My eyes followed him as he went inside Vinzon’s Hall.
I felt a little guilty for not talking to him. Maybe he just wanted a bit of company, since he apparently didn’t stand beside me to wait for the jeepney. Maybe he didn’t want to just go and eat his solitary hotdog dinner (midnight snack?). Maybe he’s just this old man who hangs out at Vinzon’s Hall and –
Then suddenly another possibility occurred to me, and I wanted to turn to the couple in line ahead of me to ask them if they saw the old man as well, or if it was just me.
I decided, I didn’t want to know. Nag-SM jeepney na lang ako. Ang tagal kasi ng Philcoa.