One Slow Night on the LRT

(c) by Alex Noriega

(c) by Alex Noriega

It was a relatively slow night on the LRT. No seats available but the carriages were not filled to the brim. I stood in front of an elderly couple and gave them a little smile as they were scanning me up and down. Don’t worry, I was decent. They were not outraged by my choice of clothing or the vast expanse of my bosom.

A seat beside theirs became vacant at the next stop. I sat down, fully intending to continue losing myself in the world of oversized sunglasses and jpops. The elderly woman nudged me.

I looked at her and she gestured at the young man who was standing in front of me. He had gotten in during the last stop. By his flustered looks, it didn’t seem like he was familiar with the public transportation system. You can always spot this specie. They’re the ones who’d be standing nervously and surreptitiously glancing up every 5 seconds at the station guide at the top of the cabin to make sure that they haven’t missed theirs.

He was breaking into a sweat, and his breathing quickened. I stood up and touched him lightly on the arm. Have this seat, please, I told him. He smiled and declined politely. Please, I insisted,  I want you to have this seat.

He was a little embarrassed. The elderly couple scooted to make more room for him, murmuring persuasion to get him to sit down. By this time the other passengers were looking at us and he had no choice but to gracefully accept my offer. Thank you, he said. I smiled and put my MP3 player back on and stood near the door. From the corner of my eye I could see  him making small talks with the elderly couple. He was looking better, the sweating had stopped and colour had returned to his face. When he smiled, he had a tiny dimple on his left cheek.

His stop must have been coming up because he thanked the elderly couple and started walking towards the door. When he passed by me, he hesitated. Oh these awkward moments, I get them by the dozen. Have a good night, I told him, take care.

I wasn’t being friendly, I just wanted him to relax. It was just a seat. Really bro, no big deal. No, I didn’t say that last part out loud. But it was implied in my “take care”.

 As the train slowed down, he said something that I could not hear. The elderly couple sat up, clearly trying to make out what he was saying. I took out one earphone and asked him, what was that again?

This is highly unusual, he said, but would you mind giving me your business card?

I’m sorry, I told him, I ran out.

I wasn’t lying. I did run out. Not that I am in the business of giving my business card to strangers anyway. But really, I ran out.

Of course, he said while shaking his head. What was I thinking? Let me give you my card, please call me so that I can thank you properly, he said.

The train stopped and passengers started to exit. I laughed a little and slipped the card into my tote bag without looking at it. He nodded and turned away to leave.

Just like in the movies, right at the last second he turned back to me and said, thank you, you don’t know it but you made my terrible day better. And then he was gone.

I never called. I have no idea where I put his card and even if I do, I am not going to call. It’s not the kind of thing that I do and this is not that kind of movie.

(He knew that too.)

Some days bring you rain. Some days bring you cute young man with a dimple on his left cheek and a business card.

(What he didn’t know was he made my day better too.)

And this, too, is a true story.


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