I pass him everyday on the way to work.
A man, his features old, hair gray, his frame weak and scrawny – on one hand, he holds a cane to keep him upright and in the other, a wooden case filled with cigarettes, candy and coins: his meager keep that he hopes will get him through the day.
He walks starting from one end of Salcedo street towards the other end, his pace slow and wobbly at times. For him, the road is Everest, and the wind is the blur of people passing by him. Sometimes, people would stop by to buy cigarettes from him, and there are those who watch and marvel at how he does it.
I’ve never heard him grumble, complain or grovel. He just walks that long, curved line that is Salcedo street, sells his cigarettes and candy and pockets/tucks the money in his ‘takatak’ case.
And here we are, in our air-conditioned cubicles, sitting all day, getting up to a hundred times probably of what the old man earns which is assured every fifteen days, sometimes more, and sometimes less, and we whine to our heart’s content, ruing taxes, how underpaid we are and how we feel overworked.
I know you may argue with me that it’s an apples to oranges comparison, but maybe it’s not the comparison that’s the point.
When I see old people still working at that age, I fear for my future.
I’d risk cancer to buy cigarettes from the old man. Maybe I should start doing so.
What’s the point?
Try seeing him do what he does. Maybe you’ll get it.
Let’s keep our head down, do our best, push and pray for a just reward.
We deserve what we work for, and eventually, people will realize that.