Coming home today, I rode a tricycle. Being the first one in, I clearly saw this woman hold a plastic bottle of whatever drink as she rode and sat in the tricycle cab. When we reached our village, I felt something on my feet – it was the same bottle, emptied of its contents and left rolling on the floor of the cab. I knew that the woman wasn’t going to go down any time soon, overhearing her street and knowing that it was near mine. So I had a battle within me.

“Should I reprimand her and ask her to throw the bottle in its proper place?” or “Should I leave it where it is, giving the driver the benefit of the doubt that he will throw it in the proper place?”

In my mind, I knew the first route was the way to go, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it. I was imagining the possible outcomes of my theoretical confrontation:

  1. She’d be all defensive about it and deny that it’s her bottle – making me look stupid in front of the other passengers.
  2. She’d also be defensive but will fight back and attack my weight or something not related to proper garbage disposal.
  3. (Ideal reaction) She’d feel sorry and other people will applaud my brave efforts

I was staring down at the bottle – mind racing with the different scenarios. And as her street neared, the little voice saying, “Just leave it be.” was getting louder.

Then I began to defend by saying, “No, I should do this. I should confront her. Here are reasons:

  1. The recent floods are reasons enough! The reason why our floodways are clogged is because people like her are inconsiderate and stupid enough to think that their trash have feet and will go to the garbage cans themselves.
  2. Ergo, my reprimanding her is perhaps an additional one second of the earth’s life in this universe.
  3. Ergo, my children will still have space and air when they’re borne into this world.
  4. I am a UP graduate. I have a task to serve the community. Sometimes service, like love, has to be tough. I am serving this woman as well as our neighborhood by being strict about this.”

The tricycle made a left turn to her street and my hand reached down to the bottle, faced her and said, “ Miss, diba bote mo ‘to? Tapon mo sa tamang basurahan. Kaya tayo binabaha eh.” (Miss, isn’t this your bottle? Throw it in the right place. This is the reason why we get floods!)

Surprisingly, my voice wasn’t as bitchy as I imagined it to be. It sounded loving and caring – with that joking twang most Filipinos have when they confront others “in a nice way.” I guess because it came from a place of genuine concern for Mother Earth.

And the good news is she took it and reacted as in the third scenario. Her stop came and I saw her pay the driver, bottle in her armpit. Hopefully, that bottle ends up in the dumpster – away from the sewers.

If it does not, well, at least I played my part – no matter how little it was.

Oftentimes, us adults know all the things we should do – for some reason, we just forget to do them. Things such as waste segregation, traffic rules, getting enough rest and exercise, and not smoking – but the illusion that our “maturity” has is that we are at liberty to do what we think is okay. We think that because we’re already old-er, our decisions are authoritative and final.

Sooner or later, we’ll experience the toll of our mistakes and our wrong decisions. When that time comes, we point our fingers on other people or to uncontrollable circumstances… and we have the audacity to call ourselves “adults” when we are clearly in no position to be examples to the youth in our midst!

Adults need “adults” too. People to remind each other of what the proper thing to do is. I need people like this in my life.

There should be someone blowing a whistle when I overeat, or when I laze around… or when I spend too much, or when I talk to much or out of place.  I need a policeman when I want to bend the rules, when I want to rebel against God, even.

What I did to that woman was what I needed in my own life.  Perhaps if I continue to be this to others, then others will be this to me as well. And won’t our sense of community have higher responsibility when that happens?

What about you… have you confronted anyone lately? What happened and how did it go?

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