Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Daily life of commuting

My friend and co-worker Pats and I climb aboard the half-full jeepney and just as we get seated, a man near the entrance shouts, "Abante na! (Let's go already!)" Not a barker, apparently, but a fellow passenger. I look at those around me and see that no one assents. In fact they seem embarrassed. They must not have been waiting as long as the man has.

"Bakit ho? (Why should we?)" asks the dude beside the driver, apparently the conductor, almost innocently.

"Because some of us have families to come home to," I want to say. "These folks have hungry mouths to feed with whatever money they were able to make for the day, primetime shows on local TV that simply cannot be missed. And I, at the very least, want to go to bed." I sum it up to, "Because you, [insert expletive here because it's more emphatic with one], are wasting our time when we could already be at home." But emphatic though that would have been, of course I say nothing.

"Bakit?" the conductor repeats, taunting the complaining man. "Pampasahero po ito. (This is a public utility vehicle.)" And the jeepney just stays put.

I imagine pummeling the conductor's face and making him unrecognizable to his family and friends. I get his point though. From a douchey conductor/driver perspective, however, a better answer to the complaining passenger might have been, "Kung nagmamadali ka, sana nag-taxi ka na lang (If you were in a hurry, you should have taken a cab)." This is a line a driver actually used on a female passenger somewhere, a friend told me. The female passenger in that story replied, "Eh kaya nga nag-jeep eh, kasi walang pang-taxi (I rode a jeepney because I can't afford a cab)," which wasn't really a redeeming retort but clearly shows the stalemate both the driver and passenger are in. Both don't have a lot of money and are barely getting by. Frugal Passenger can't very well disembark, get on a cab, roll down her window and give Douchey Driver the dirty finger as the cab drives by his jeepney. Frugal Passenger would also only be wasting her time riding another jeepney only to find out its driver is just as passenger-greedy as the previous one. Douchey Driver, on the other hand, has no other choice but to pluck out every commuter that he can find on the street to make a living. He has hungry mouths to feed at the end of the day, after all, just like Frugal Passenger. A more likely explanation, however, would be that Douchey Driver simply does not give a damn if he's wasting Frugal Passenger's time.

The douchey conductor of our jeepney, after getting no more rebuttals from the complaining passenger, looks away and resumes his job of enticing passersby with what he makes it seem like the last trip a public utility vehicle was ever going to take for the night on that route. Pats and I resume playing the role of Apathetic Frugal Passengers...and I look forward to another day of the same commuting scenario, because that's how things are going to be until I get up the nerve to study driving.

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