30 August 2010

Who’s to Blame? The Mystery of a Missing Coin During a Jeepney Ride Home

“Mamâ, Transville po!” said chubby lady as she handed over a hundred-peso bill.

I paid chubby lady no more attention until, about a kilometer from where she was about to get off, she called out to the driver, “Mamâ, sukli ko pô sa one hundred, Transville lang pô!”

The driver was, in fact, already counting her change. Her fare was no more than 10 pesos. When done, he handed the change to clumsy skinny boy in uniform right behind him. The latter promptly spilled a coin into a plastic basket on the jeepney’s floor that was filled with plastic bags of all sorts of things.

I dunno. The coin was like a live tilapia which jumped out of clumsy skinny boy’s palm. Pumapaltok pa

The sympathetic long-haired man next to me called to the old lady who owned the plastic basket to tell her that a coin from chubby lady’s change had spilled into her collection of plastic bags. She promptly dug in to see where the lively coin had gone.

There was no sight of it… “Walâ naman eh!” she complained.

“Piso pô…” I volunteered, trying to be of help. “Piso nga pô,” long-haired man agreed with me. So the old lady dug right back in, but still there was no sight of the missing coin.

Apparently, chubby lady had already started to count her change. Soon she called out, “Mamâ, kulang po ng five pesos!”

Ay… Long-haired man and I both managed embarrassed smiles. Five pesos pala!

Old lady was still rummaging through the plastic bags until, exasperated, she just folded her arms in a gesture of finality and muttered again, “Walâ naman eh!”

“Para!” chubby lady soon called out crossly. Makakatisod ang ngusô when she got off, dabog pa!

But who’s to blame? She herself for handing over a 100-peso bill for a 10-peso fare? She can always claim that, at least, she paid good money for her jeepney ride home…

The driver, who could have been a bit more careful when handing over the change to skinny boy? But then, one can always argue that skinny boy could have been more careful in catching the change from the driver…

It’s not, of course, as though he asked to be born with larger palms and God failed to humor him.

So was it the old lady who owned the plastic basket? Aba’y nananahimik ang Nanay before the incident! In fact, she was totally oblivious to the goings-on until long-haired man told her about the missing coin. She did look, and in fairness, I’m at a loss to explain where the coin could have gone. It was as if it vanished into thin air…

My guess is that she will be quietly thanking Mother Luck when she gets home and finds the five peso bill inside one of the plastic bags. But to get back to chubby lady’s misfortune… Who’s to blame?

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