I was at Quezon City Hall today to pay my real estate tax.
The number on my ticket said “1991.” I looked at the screen overhead. They were currently serving number “1691.”
I ran the figures in my head. Assuming they processed three assessments per minute—an extremely optimistic evaluation given the rate at which numbers were changing on the electronic bulletin board—I’d end up waiting nearly two hours. And that didn’t even include the time I’d need to spend at the queue for paying.
I made an uncharacteristic decision. I decided to simply return another day. (My normal response would have been to rant for the next hour and forty minutes—but I would have stayed out of an abject loyalty to the Almighty Checklist.)
On the way out, I politely asked the guard on duty what time the office opened in the morning. While I was trying to solicit enough information to determine the best possible day and time to return, a man in a cream-colored barong and brown shoes sauntered over and asked me if I needed any help.
I stared at him in frank bewilderment for about three seconds. (See, almost no one ever asks me if I need help even if I blatantly require assistance. I think it’s the forbidding frown on my face—my unfortunately default expression.)
After recovering my composure, I explained that I was there to pay for my real estate tax, but that I was 300th in line and would simply have to come back. The man promptly took my bill from last year, ran his eyes down the document, smiled at me and asked me to follow him, and promptly got my bill assessed and paid for in under ten minutes.
I was in a daze the whole time—and terrified that I was going to be charged for being the unwitting recipient of this act of Good Samaritanship. (I suppose that’s why I almost never get offers of help: I’m perpetually wary of being conned, of being swindled, of being scammed.) But no bill was waiting. As soon as I got my receipt, the man nodded at me, smiled and promptly disappeared into the crowd of people (a crowd that looked like it contained far more than 300 people in fervent need of a Good Samaritan).
Several hours later, I’m still in a daze.
So that’s what being on the receiving end of a good deed feels like.