a trip down memory lane
It’s been years since I’ve ridden a jeepney. College life in Metro Manila necessitated me to hop on to these passenger vehicles to get me to where I needed to be. They come in bright colors in a stainless steel body, and some of them can be defined as a mobile disco. My favorite seat is at the front passenger side, sitting with one leg on the outer step board. Today, Boyet occupied that seat.
Flagging a jeepney is never a problem. Drivers are mostly psychic and will stop on a dime at the slightest movement of your finger or just by your facial expression at a moment of hesitation. They will block all traffic behind them and wait until you board, and the ensuing angry honks from the vehicles behind are really telling you to hurry up and get seated so they can go their merry way.
Empty jeepneys tend to move along very slowly, picking up passengers on every stop, which is just about anywhere. Wide empty seats allow for viewing the scenery along the way but a fully loaded sardine can on wheels will require one to keep his head facing forward and at the opposite seat lest it ends up in the next passenger’s armpit. Holding on for dear life at the handle bars attached to the ceiling of these jeepneys is a necessity as these drivers all wear slippers made of lead. They either slam on the brakes or push the pedal to the metal.
Of course, everyone should pay the fare. Here, our driver didn’t have a sidekick to collect fare or watch out for free boarders. Honesty is expected, and payment is preferably done as soon one is seated. Some passengers hand out large bills just as they are about to get down from the vehicle and expect change to be quick, and that is always met by a litany of curses from the driver, angry stares by the passengers, and loud angry horns from all the cars behind. People should learn to trust the driver enough to pay their fare as soon as they’ve settled into their seats. The driver won’t run away.
There are no private conversations in a jeepney, but non-participants are expected to keep their mouths shut if they can’t keep their ears shut. I was an exception. Not content with overhearing the conversation between these ladies seated across me, I was so rude to interrupt them. It wasn’t so much about the topic of their discussion, but was more of the familiar dialect they were talking in. They both come from Borongan, Eastern Samar. The lady on the left found work two years ago and the one on the right is just three months old in the metropolis.
Boredom and sleepiness is inevitable when caught in a traffic jam. Nothing much one can do about it, except to get off and walk the rest of the way. Cursing never really helped in any way.
Reading the day’s news and celebrity gossip should keep the wife entertained tonight when this driver goes home. Hopefully today’s fare will cover the family’s immediate needs and then some.