It must be common now. But the last place I expected to be victimized by crooks was the McDonald's at Philcoa --I'm refering to the general area around the Philippine Coconut Authority that is at once a Quezon City landmark and a more or less critical stop for people wishing to go to the University of the Philippines or to Don Antonio Heights or Fairview.
I was in the middle of a lesson with my Korean student, Tom. We'd leaned closer to each other across the table to facilitate communication over the din of the post-post-dinner crowd: students, mainly, hiding in the nearest 24-hour fast food joint for a semblance of peaceful study over a hot meal. Neither of us noticed Gray Shirt Perp slipping his hand under the table, onto the chair next to Tom. Gray Shirt Perp's hand closed over Tom's celphone and that was all she wrote. Gray Shirt Perp was able to abscond with another celphone which he was bound to sell to support his drug habit or his fetish for American brand name apparel.
The only person who did notice Gray Shirt Perp was an old lady who was cowed into silence by Perp's fierce gaze. I don't completely blame her, but she could have shouted and Tom and I could have subdued the creep or at least prevented the celphone theft.
We chased Perp's shadow futilely for a few minuets, returning to McDonald's to talk to the manager about yet another crime happening under their collective noses. Old lady couldn't finger Gray Perp, though I had a feeling he may have lingered just outside the MacDonald's after passing the ill-gotten phone to a confederate.
I did a surprising thing-- I prayed with Tom. I prayed for peace for him, the replacement of his phone with something better. I was tempted to pray for the speedy growth of painful and perennial hemorrhoids on Gray Perp's dyolog ass, but somehow I didn't.
We ended the class and natch, I didn't ask Tom to pay me anything-- his wallet would be feeling the loss of his phone soon enough. The same way my wallet was feeling the loss of my projected income.
Thanks a lot, Perp. I hope we meet again in a year. I hope you try something stupid. I hope I'm there to place you under citizen's arrest.