The Poor Old Bastard Who Smokes But Wears a Black Face Mask

This old man drives along the highway with his jeepney. It was a long one, and today it was more than half-full of passengers. This is how he makes money. Thus, whoever rides his ride is part of the reason his family is able to put food on the table. He does this everyday, this old man.

Going back and forth from one terminal to another, he drives along the highway, stopping every few seconds to pick up and drop off passengers. How many times, I don’t know. He sits on the driver’s seat for hours everyday, arms and hands in control of the steering wheel, gear shifter, as well as frequently reaching behind him to receive fare and give back change from and to people whose lives he also has control of, or at least his responsibility, while they were on his ride.

His health is his concern, this old man, the driver, as he wears a black face mask to block the highway’s pollution, whether smoke or dust, from entering his nose and mouth and down into his system. The last thing any hardworking person with priorities would want to feel is a little sign of cold or cough because they know it can only get worse.

The moment you get hit with flu, work stops, and so does the money. This old man knows that and being the provider of his family, it’s only natural that he makes sure he’s always in top condition.

It all sounds like a sweet and inspiring story.. until this old man slides his black face mask down to open his mouth, and smoke a cigarette. Yeah.. totally makes sense, dude. To himself and his family, he may be a good hardworking man, but to the people who took his ride that day, he was just a poor old bastard among other poor old bastards they have to deal with in different situations.

As he continued to drive along the highway, this poor old bastard calmly holds the cigarette between his fingers. Every half a minute, he’d breathe it in and blow out smoke, which then goes to the back of the jeepney and be inhaled by his passengers who were probably too awkward to call his attention because in return, they’d just get other people’s attention back to them if they were to try to make a scene, even though everyone probably felt disgust for what this poor old bastard had them deal with.

Not even the mother with a baby who seems to be just about a year old- and was breastfeeding during that moment this poor old bastard was enjoying his cigarette- could say anything. She was seated a bit at the front part, closer to the poor old bastard, and was probably afraid to complain or the other passengers might see her breastfeeding in a public vehicle.

Not a single word was blurted out during that smokey ride with the poor old bastard on the steering wheel, not even from this idiot writing this. Why not say anything if you could have done it for the sake of the other passengers, especially the poor mother carrying an infant? Why do I feel like it’s my fault for not doing anything? I’m just one of the passengers who took that poor old bastard’s damn ride. Did no one else feel like I did?

No, I can’t be the only one. We were all just afraid to say anything and would hate the attention, afraid to make a scene, and afraid how the poor old bastard on the wheels might react if any of us tried to say anything. Still, we could have at least tried to do or say something. All this idiot on the keyboard could do during that moment was get his phone out of his pocket and take a photo of the poor old bastard with his cigarette on his fingers.

What do you plan to do with that photo? Put it on Facebook? Put on a caption, cursing the poor old bastard on the wheels, and his family at home who were excitedly waiting for their provider’s blessings like he’s some good guy who does a good job at work and treats them well?

Thanks to this poor old bastard, now I feel like it’s my fault for not denouncing his act and letting everyone else- especially the breastfeeding mother- suffer the consequences of this poor old bastard’s actions. But who’s really to blame? The poor old bastard for his wrong actions, or this idiot’s inaction that didn’t help prevent the situation?

What was the point of the “No Smoking” sign stuck behind the front passenger’s seat? Did that only apply to passengers, and this poor old bastard is an exception? What’s the point of me having a mouth and a pair of balls if I couldn’t use my voice and my cojones to tell this poor old bastard, “Get rid of that cigarette or I’ll have you swallow it?” Why’d this poor old bastard have to let me live with this guilt when I don’t even have anything to do with it?

I guess the most important question here really is, what was the whole point of that black face mask covering the poor old bastard’s face if he was just gonna voluntarily inhale smoke into his system anyway? Was he really trying to protect himself from pollution? Or was he just trying to slay with his little Korean fashion trend look? It’s more like he’s trying to slay his passengers, goddamnit!

Screw you, poor old bastard. I’m moving on.

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