The Boy at the Petrol Station

28 Aug

This morning was one of those usual mornings where my dad and I would stop by the petrol station before he takes me to work or to the nearest terminal.But it’s not quite the ‘usual morning’ that I thought. After the service crew filled up the fuel tank, my dad rolled down his window and handed him the 1,000 peso bill. As we were waiting for the change, a little boy, roughly around 8-10 years old, appeared beside the window by the driver’s side. He was holding this small plastic blue tray and said in his soft and innocent voice , “Bili na po kayo.” (“Please buy” is the closest translation I could think of. )

I said no to him even though I haven’t even had a glimpse of what he was selling. But he insisted and tried to convinced us once more. I asked what’s on his tray. He said, “puto” (steamed rice cake/muffin) and” kutsinta” (sticky rice cake usually topped with shredded coconut ), which are two of our local desserts . I haven’t had breakfast and though, both are delicious, it was not quite appealing to me that time. As I was about to say my second NO, the boy pleaded again that we buy from him. I don’t know if it was because of his persistence or because of the compassion I felt for him, or because I just wanted to get rid of him so we can finally go, that I told dad to buy the dessert. He said that each cost 5 pesos, which I think is about 11 cents in USD. There were just 4 pieces of puto and 1 kutsinta on his tray, so we decided to buy everything. And after I told him that we were buying ‘everything’, his eyes lit up. His eyes sparkled as he took out a small plastic bag to put all the puto and kutsinta. As my father handed to him the 25-peso coins in exchange of the rice cakes, he gave me and my dad one of the sweetest smiles I have ever seen in my life. He seemed very happy. I told him to go straight home since he’s got no more to sell. Still wearing the big smile on his face, he nodded and walked away from the car looking very happy.

As we drove away, I looked back  and watched him as he walked towards the crowd.  Then I felt something different… I felt good and bad at the same time. Good because his smile was just beautiful. Bad, because I initially I said NO to him, and second, because a boy his age have to work by selling in the streets.  I can’t say which feeling was greater – well probably the ‘feeling bad‘ because I felt a grip in my heart, so I uttered a simple prayer for the boy as we went on our way.

I wondered if he is studying. My dad said, maybe his classes are in the afternoon. Maybe, maybe. I really hope that he is studying.

My dad then recalled his childhood experiences, saying the boy reminded him of it. My father used to sell things also in the streets of Olongapo and Manila, back when he was young.. He didn’t grow up in a wealthy family and was orphaned at a very young age, so life was hard for him. It’s a very long story, but I have to say that both my parents worked very hard to provide us the comfortable lives we have right now.

There were a lot of  moments in my life when I realized how blessed I am, but there were also times when I forget and complain nonstop. And lately,I haven’t been counting my blessings and been complaining instead. I think the Tuesday morning incident is one of those moments that God allowed so I can see the realities of life, not to complain more, but also to see that there are things, even the simple ones that I should be grateful for, like that beautiful innocent smile on that boy’s face.

I just have to say that, that boy made my day today! 🙂

And oh, the “puto” was yummy!

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