Monday, April 27, 2009

Life on the road, Part 1

Those stored-value train tickets really come in handy. If you've never traveled by MRT during rush hour, you can't possibly know the implication of owning a stored-value ticket. Even though queues at the station can reach kilometric proportions even when it's not within the day's rush hours, walking ahead of all those queuing up to buy a single-journey ticket does give one some sense of relief that he is in a way better off than those unfortunate fellas.

Today, my ticket proved invaluable again. But it was a taxi ride from the train station to the office that started my day of interesting commuting ruminations. Getting to one's destination by way of a cab instead of driving oneself does have its advantages -- foremost on my list is that since you aren't doing the driving yourself, your whole person is liberated from the constant alertness that can drive one crazy as far as road alertness for Manila driving is concerned. In other words, you can simply lay back and relax instead of watching out for potholes, pedestrians who seem to think that pedestrian lanes are mere street art, kids who come out of nowhere to cross the street, and motorists who seem to think lines separating lanes are street art, who probably don't know what signal lights are for, or who are living out fantasies of taking part in the Indie 500. Being a passenger on a cab somehow frees you from having to deal with all that.

Thing is, cabs don't have signs that say whether their airconditioning system is working great or not, so you can only tell if you're in for a nice and comfortable trip or one where you'd rather open the windows to be able to breathe more easily (and feel like getting your money back for such a stressful ride) when you're actually seated and well on your way.

My cab ride was pretty much the latter, except that the driver was nice and quietly apologetic about it, immediately adjusting the aircon vents once he sensed I was fanning myself in the backseat. In a few minutes, he switched the setting to "high." Only after I started fanning myself with some scratch papers I had in my bag did I remember the "taxi-driver-ego-hurting-via-passenger-fanning" experience from years ago, but that didn't stop me from trying to get more wind in my face. Anyhow, the ride wasn't that long and I ended up paying less than I had expected, so that sort of made up for the discomfort.

Later in the day, I hailed yet another taxi. It was an FX taxi, and I was the lone passenger on its Buendia-MRT station route. Nice. And the airconditioning was working okay.

At a stoplight more than halfway to the station, the driver started collecting some coins from across his dashboard. "Lumipat na lang ho kayo sa iba," he said, turning to me and looking like he was handing back the fare I had given him earlier.

"Bakit, saan ho ba ang punta nyo?" I asked, bewildered that I was being told to get off and look for another way to reach my destination.

"Iikot na lang ho ako, walang pasahero eh," was his reply. Walang pasahero? Ano kayang tawag sa akin?! was running in my mind.

"Eh bakit kayo magsasakay tapos pabababain niyo?" I quizzed him, I suppose with one eyebrow raised and in a tone far from what one hears in posh elevators in snazzy buildings where a soothing female voice announces what floor you're on.

"Sige na, sige na," was his quick response (in that okay-cool-it-you're-overreacting manner), putting the coins back on the dashboard. "Huwag ka na maingay." Well!! "Nakikiusap lang naman eh."

Nakikiusap my foot. *I roll my eyes*

"Nakikiusap daw," I muttered, loud enough for him to hear. "Pineperwisyo niyo ang mga pasahero..."

Now I realize I could have handled the situation in a better way -- probably still saying basically the same things, but with more cheer, more patience, and sans the rolling eyes and head-shaking. A friend I told about the incident a few minutes ago said the same thing has happened to her, but she got off the taxi and took a bus. A few years ago, I probably would've done the same... but... I don't know. For some reason, the lack of consideration demonstrated by the taxi driver's actions was simply glaring to me, and I wasn't about to put up with it. Good thing, though, that he didn't happen to have a gun, or else I probably would've ended up the subject of one of those police-beat stories you read in the papers about people getting shot or knifed for seemingly petty reasons. Needless to say, I made it home alive and in one piece :-)


WillyJ said...

Sometimes, commuting is like a job for superheroes. On the other hand, so is driving your own car. Alam nung driver ng FX na mali siya, e kung makakalusot lang naman. There are many villains on the concrete jungle, so, take care ;-)

petrufied said...

I don't know how to drive yet and I bet it's everything you say it is! But I must say that commuting can also be a perk-your-ears and peel-your-eyes alertness exercise when it comes to drivers who let you off places that are not very convenient! Good that you took a stand. Me, I'd be that passenger who gets off and looks for another type of ride. basta di FX. D:

PS. I hate it when bus drivers let me off where there's still fencing on the sidewalk. Am I supposed to climb the fence or what. Times like these I pray for dear life.

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