In my commuting experiences, I often have to take a jeepney to get anywhere in the metropolis… It’s the cheapest mode of transportation, the only option for those who don’t have the luxury of owning something to drive. I am writing on the point of view of a jeepney.
My sides are newly-polished. It’s a good thing my driver thought of shimmying me up a bit even just for today. Me and my colleagues in this queue are usually all worn out, steel handles teeming with unknown bacteria due to constant handling. There will be a myriad of passengers under my care for this today. A myriad of trips to generate a few coins for the master controlling the steering wheel.
Some passengers are real treats to look at. They are well-dressed and they smell sweet.But often there are laborers, dripping with sweat complete with wet marks all over their old cotton shirts. Humbling is the experience I bring every typical passenger. They may all not have to interact with each other in their regular jobs, lives and homes, but for as long as I hold them captive in my territory, they will have to be stuck with one another for a few minutes or so. I am the silent cord which holds them together, whether they like it or not.
Sometimes there are dangerous passengers– the sinister types with knives, guns and the balls to rob their fellowmen in unsuspecting moment and unguarded areas of travel. I have been witness to many of these instances, with their different ploys which range from pretending to spit on a fellow passenger and create distraction, to the more direct collection of items in the jeepney through their loot bag.
Right now, there are no such instances. It is smooth sailing supposedly since it’s a dead hour for travelling. Same old route I go to every single day, except during severe traffic such as this during rush hours…
…where the king holding the steering wheel will have to take some alternate routes, if available. Otherwise, there will be an incessant muttering of breaths, of people who think that their jeepney experience must be as short as the strike of lightning, getting more hostile in each second they are held captive more than they expected it.
I am the cheapest and most efficient mode of transportation, although people undermine my worth frequently. I epitomize more of the culture I am submerged in, however little attention they give me. I give passengers a jolt of reality in each ride, an opportunity to mingle with people they would not normally meet in other circumstances. I give failed and financially challenged kings an opportunity to have a decent job despite the high rates of unemployment and the lack of education. Each time my engine roars, more coins come in and accumulate into something that is hopefully enough to feed a family or two even for just a single day.
And if drivers are not king in their homes and in their lives, they will still have opportunities to sit in my front throne, bring the engine to life and steer me to places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to on my own. Drivers are as different as buildings I pass by each time we travel. There are smooth drivers, drivers who curse a lot, drivers who spit a lot, drivers who like to stop in between trips to chat up with another driver who happens to be on the same road. There are drivers who don’t follow traffic signs, and drivers who play loud music and make a disco out of me. There are drivers who like to squeeze in as many passengers as they can.
Regardless of what they like, I have no qualms for as long as they listen well. The worst type of driver is the one who doesn’t listen. Not just listen to the passengers, but listen to what I have to say. I have my own voice. I have my own needs. I am a machine that needs constant refilling and repairing. Many a driver and passenger has perished at my demise. When one of my tires hit a nail on the road, everyone is a loser. Lost time for the passengers, and even worse is the lost time AND income for the driver. When my engine sputters and coughs, the driver better take heed and take me somewhere for a good tuning up. Even machines need R&R too.
There are passengers, there are drivers but I will never be called functional if there weren’t any roads to travel on. Some of my colleagues in the province are exposed to the rough and tumble of unasphalted roads. I am one of the privileged few who revel in urban city settings and not have to worry about bumping into cows, cow manure, goats or other farm animals who tend to get astray in less developed roads. Still there are humps which try to slow me down in some areas. Ironic that the same people who want fast transportation are also the same people who want to slow me down to prevent accidents. These people are quite hard to get. You never know what they want. For all I know, they don’t have any idea what they really want in anything and everything under the sun. Nonetheless, I am just a machine, a tool and not made to lash back or complain.
What if one day we jeepneys all grew tired of what we were supposed to do. There will surely be havoc on the streets– the same havoc that men experience in their lives when they don’t do exactly what their Creator has expected them to do. I guess I am just fine not having any emotions to mess things up. Many a human has gotten in trouble for those emotions they can’t control. Some are even offended and refuse to function just because of something absurdly simple. Not to brag or anything, but I often get stepped on, walked on, hit, bumped against other jeepneys and cars. But it doesn’t strip me of my purpose because everything in my engine is focused to accomplishing it.
Still, in some aspects humans are luckier especially in feeling those euphoric moments. I don’t feel that elation they feel when they are loved and cared for. Even if I were in the hands of the best driver, the closest thing I could have to feeling happy is to be able to function and be in good shape.
Silly humans. Confused as they are, they have no idea how lucky and superior they are in the greater scheme of things.