Friday, October 13, 2006

On Retirement Plans

In The Cop and the Anthem, O. Henry relates the story of a New York City hobo named Soapy, who sets out to get arrested so he can spend the cold winter as a guest of the city jail. Despite efforts at petty theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, and "mashing", Soapy fails to draw the attention of the police. Disconsolate, he pauses in front of a church, where an organ anthem inspires him to clean up his life - whereupon he is promptly arrested for loitering.

In a rather sad case of life imitating art, reports how a 62-year-old man who couldn't find steady work came up with a plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.

He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope. The teller gave him four $20 bills and pushed a silent alarm . . . [He] handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

Now, this is something that I am pretty sure will not happen in the Philippines. First, the 62-year-old Pinoy would be living with his kids; and besides, social security is practically non-existent in this country. Second, by the time the PNP arrives, he would have already gone hungry and tired of all the waiting and would have already taken all the bank employees out to lunch. Third, at the rate they are going, the man would already be dead by the time the courts finish hearing the case. Fourth, all the country's politicians will be all over the news about the incident; in the end, the President will pardon him, party-list representatives will rant about how the government is neglecting the poor, and the mayor of Pasig will order an investigation after destroying all the material evidence.