He must be in his 60s with a slightly stooped back, a bulging front and hair that is as white as chalk. Without his green and black uniform, you could easily mistake him for a beggar. He is well tanned from too much exposure to the sun and his skin is wrinkled and perhaps as rough as the pavement he was standing on.
I wonder how many of us take notice of him. He was there on that same spot from early morning 'til late afternoon, raising his hands to stop cars and let the pedestrians cross the street. I wonder if the people even noticed that he was there for them to help them cross the street and avoid accidents from happening.
I cannot imagine how an old man feels exposed to the sun the whole day. It's a pity that nobody seemed to care for him; not even his family if he had one.
I could have forgotten that scene totally but the next time I passed by that place where I last saw the man, he was there smiling to a young lad who was handing him a hamburger wrapped in a plastic pouch. Beside the lad was a younger boy who was handing the old man a bottle of drinks. I was touched by the scene. Something stirred inside me. I was wrong after all for judging people. There are still people who care and there are people who do not only care but do something to make the less fortunate happy.
I didn't notice that the car I was in has stopped. When I looked back to the man's direction, he was under the big acacia tree relishing his snacks and the traffic has gone mad. A big man got down from his car and was cursing the truck driver. I didn't mind them for I was busy assessing the old man who was still enjoying his snacks.
Fifteen minutes passed and the old man was back at his post and once again the traffic went to its usual smooth flow. I was relieved but not too long when I looked at the old man again and his stooped back.
I could have forgotten that old man after a few weeks. I had been very busy with my own life that things that were irrelevant to my life were left at the bottom of my memory. The car I was riding was running smoothly when suddenly my eyes caught a sight I could have sworn not to have seen in my whole life. An old woman was crossing the street without someone with her when suddenly there was a screech so loud I swore my ears had shattered to pieces.
I stifled a cry, which came out anyway as a loud shout. "Oh my God, that womanâ€¦." It was as if the world has collapsed on me and I couldn't breathe. The people around me were swaying and I was drowning. It took me a few minutes to register what happened but by then, there were murmurs all around me about the woman who was crushed to the ground.
I sat there with the water on my hand that the other passenger has handed me. I was still shocked. Suddenly feeling better when I sipped the cold water, I managed to say a word of thanks.
I remembered the old man. If there was an old man in that place, the old woman shouldn't have died. Now I know that the old man who took care of the pedestrians knew why he should be there all the time even in the hottest noon time. He wanted to save lives.
The next time I saw the old man smiling again to a group of youngsters who were talking to him, I knew that I shouldn't pity him. I know that perhaps he is there because of a mission.I shall forget about thinking that the old man feels distressed doing what he is doing because I saw how happy he is as he smiles to the pedestrians. I know that he loves his job and the people love him as well.