Kindness on the streets
Sometime last week, I was walking on Timog Avenue in Quezon City toward the car I parked. Some pavement tiles on the sidewalk were missing on the tight spot right next to the driver's door.
Gingerly, I half tiptoed on the tiles that were still there but before I knew it—splat! My left sandal became half-submerged in black muck, as the rain drenched the city earlier that day.
"Ay si Ma'm, nalubog," said a middle-aged woman sitting on a stool on the sidewalk.
"Ikaw kasi, diyan mo siya pina-park," she added, admonishing a young man who was scratching his head.
"Kuha ka ng basahan, dali," she said, and in a second, a younger woman produced a clean rag right beside my sandal, the type of rag being peddled on the streets for a peso each, made of cut retazos of cloth.
"Ah wag na, ok lang ako," I said. "Hindi naman ako nabasa," I explained, turning my foot so that I—and they—could see the sole of the half-muddied sandal, and my not-muddied foot.
"Ay hindi, ipunas mo diyan. Babaho yung sasakyan mo," the young woman said, while the older woman said something in agreement.
And so I stepped onto the clean rag on the sidewalk and twisted my sandaled foot left and right, while they looked on. The older woman said, "umulan kasi kanina."
I thanked them, got into the car, and soon I was on my way home.
While driving, it struck me that a homeless family chose to be kind and helped me that day.
I see their family almost every day on Timog Avenue. They live right on the sidewalk a stone's throw away from the GMA Network offices. In the mornings, I see their beddings when I pass by on the way to work. Sometimes the young man drinks coffee just as I slow down looking for parking space. On some afternoons, they huddle as they sort out the day's "haul": empty soda cans, PET bottles, and Styrofoam, no doubt preparing to bring them to the junk shop for cash. At one time, the younger woman even asked if I wanted the car washed. "'Wag na lang. Uulan din eh," I said.
That day, it would have been easier and more practical for them to just ignore what happened to me and focus on whatever it was they were doing to make some money. I slipped a bit and landed on some mud, big deal; I'm old enough to deal with it.
But they helped.
The more I thought about it, the more it felt good, not because some people went out of their way to be kind to me, but because of the realization that kindness lives. Right here, right now.
I wish more acts of kindness would happen on our busy streets.
Sometime ago, a video of a young woman draping her jacket on a street child became viral on the Internet. The child was naked and shivering, and the woman crouched down and talked to her as she gave her own jacket. It was a quiet but moving short video.
"There is hope for our country" some people said, as many were touched by that random act of kindness on EDSA.
Kindness—the kind where nothing is expected in return—feels good to the soul. Rich or poor, all of us can make the virtue alive on the streets if we will just take the time to help someone.