I was enjoying my cheap meal at the nearby jollijeep when someone stood beside me and casually asked the tindera if they have cigarettes. She calmly replied, “Ay, hindi na po. Baka kasi hulihin kami.” (Oh, not anymore. We might get penalized.)
I tried to hide my smile as the disappointed guy walked away. It was too soon to smile, anyway. Just a few feet behind us, a long line of lunchtime smokers stood right beside a soggy printed NO SMOKING sign. Cigarette butts littered the otherwise-clean sidewalk.
As I left the food stall, I saw a tired traffic aide resting on one of the sidewalk rails. I couldn’t help but approach her, and note: “Guess the NO SMOKING sign is just for show, huh?”
She looked at me, smiled weakly, and replied. “Oh, there are roving security guards. But they (the smokers) always come back after.” Part of me wanted to ask why she couldn’t do it herself; but her frail form and tired eyes behind her uniform told me more than enough.
I gave one last look at the smokers, and sighed. Even if I said anything to them, would they actually listen? Continue reading