I will try to keep this as short and accurate as I possibly can. Earlier today, I went out for a bicycle ride for my occasional pretense at a physical workout. After the token exercise, I went to a convenience store somewhere in Mandaluyong for some refreshments.
Just as I was about to leave, a guy on an underbone motorbike arrived and parked his ride in front of the store. I would have already left if not for the fact that my attention was caught by the man's gorgeous-looking motorcycle. I'm not really into motorbikes, but I can appreciate a beauty when I see one. Turned out I was ogling a black Sachs MadAss (for visual reference, a photo of the bike can be seen below); the bike's model name was prominently spelled out on its uniquely styled frame.
So I did what I'd never done before: Give a motorbike a 360-degree inspection. The owner was inside the store, but I was somehow sure that he wouldn't mind an admirer of his bike. I decided to wait for the owner to come out just to ask him where he had purchased this MadAss.
As fate would have it, rain had begun to fall when the motorbike owner emerged from the store, so he had no choice but to wait for the downpour to stop before taking off. So I again did something I'd never done before: Ask a complete stranger about a motorcycle.
"Nice bike," I said in an awkward attempt to start a conversation.
Thankfully, the guy wasn't averse to chatting with a sweaty man he hadn't met before. He flashed me a wide and friendly grin, as if to let me know I could ask him questions about his prized possession.
"Where is it made?" I ventured, betraying my ignorance of two-wheeled transportation.
"It's made by a German motorcycle company," he replied.
"You can buy it here brand-new?" I asked again.
"Yes, actually," he said. "In fact, they have a distributor here in Mandaluyong. Pero swerte ako sa pagkabili ko dito [But I was lucky with my purchase of this bike]. A brand-new unit costs P130,000, but I got this from a British national in Ayala Alabang for just P60,000. He had used it for just over 300km."
I asked him a few more things:
"What's the engine displacement?" ("It's 125cc.")
"Is that all stock?" ("Yes, it is, except for the cargo carrier at the back, which I have just installed for P2,500.")
"Is it light?" ("Yes. The body frame is made of alloy, not steel. It feels like you're only riding a bicycle.")
"How's the fuel consumption?" ("Good. It has a five-liter fuel tank, and manages 38km per liter. But it has a top speed of only 95kph.")
He answered every single one of my questions enthusiastically. Wow, this guy is cool, I thought. He seemed like somebody who could be a perfect drinking buddy. Really nice chap. I even thought of getting his number so we could have him and his Sachs featured in our new Top Bikes magazine.
Then it was his turn to ask me a question.
"So, what's your motorbike?" he inquired with a seemingly genuine curiosity.
"Oh, I don't have a motorbike," I admitted. "I only have a bicycle." I then showed him my foot-powered workout tool standing behind me.
I felt a bit of embarrassment, of course. There I was doing all sorts of prying about this man's motorcycle--with a tone that made it sound like I was very knowledgeable about this mode of motorized conveyance--when in fact I didn't own one.
So I did the asking again, in hopes he wouldn't notice the irony of the situation.
"Does this motorcycle come with a helmet?" I blurted out. Not sure why I did. Yes, he wasn't wearing one, but at that point I'd hardly even noticed that he didn't have the mandatory skull protection.
"It doesn't come with one," he answered. I don't know if he meant the secondhand unit that he had bought didn't come with a helmet, or a brand-new Sachs MadAss really doesn't come with one.
"Don't you get pulled over by the cops for not wearing a helmet?" I followed up. Again, not sure why I asked that. Frankly, it wasn't like I cared.
He stunned me with his comeback: "Ay, hindi naman nila ako pwedeng hulihin; pulis ako" ["Oh, they can't apprehend me; I'm a policeman"].
My jaw dropped. And before I could pick it up, the guy's mobile phone rang. Because he was within my earshot, I heard him say that he was about to be transferred to the Highway Patrol Group. The best part? I also heard him tell the person on the other line that he had just come from a drinking session. "Galing ako kina tatay; nag-inom kami [I came from dad's place; we had drinks]. Father's Day kasi."
Just then, my stomach turned. The casual liking I had felt earlier for my potential drinking buddy immediately soured. I wanted to take a photo of his motorbike under the pretext that I would use it to help me look for that same model, but I didn't have a camera or phone with me.
When he was done talking on the phone, the rain had weakened to a drizzle and he left without going back to our interrupted chat. He went straight to his MadAss as though he had not been engaged in an animated talk with me just moments ago. In short, he disappeared before I could ask him his name. I didn't dare try anymore--especially not after noticing the concealed bulge on his waist.
As I pedaled away from the store, I could only think of one thing: Why?
Why do we have cops like that?
Why do the ones who are supposed to uphold the law so blatantly deride it?
Why are erring policemen even proud of their actions?
Actually, why do I even bother asking?