People riding private vehicles should never really complain that much about traffic because they fail to realize that just beyond their windshield, a few feet away, exists a doorway to a world they will never ever feel. Truly, for all comfort-riding fortuners who have probably never even ridden one in today’s heat and jam, no amount of “I can relate” can soothe whatever forms of discomfort horribly dwell inside those multi-colored, so-called kings of the road, a.k.a. the jeepneys, or multicabs in Davao-speak.
Trying to sit comfortably in the cramped space (oxymoron intended), with about twenty other passengers, ten to each side, brushing knees with the person fronting you, with elbows everywhere, and bodies packed like sardines, is one serious mega-study in pain tolerance.
You have to contend with sudden braking (or speeding), claustrophobic conditions, a spectrum of smells, humidity and lastly, leg cramps, those usual suspects in the infliction of torture on the body. No matter how primed your mind may have been when you left home, that clean and sweet-smell feeling will surely say goodbye once you enter those sweat boxes we call a ride.
Unfortunately, it could get better. One of the worst places to sit once aboard these public transports is right behind the jeepney driver. Others may insist that it is the safest part of the vehicle (driver side reasoning) but that line of thinking does not really sit well with me.
In this particular instance, your boxed-in location, being between mamang driver and the rest of the passengers, makes you the most logical recipient of an endless flow of jeep fare, to pass on to the driver, who in return, forks you back loose change to finish the transaction. Bad thing is, this process can go on throughout the whole trip, so that chances are, you cannot even get a momentary shut-eye.
Wait, there’s more! This unenviable position of passing fare and loose change back and forth, just happens to be the tip of the ice cream. It can be compounded when the riders beside you decide to boom-box their conversation right next to your ear, without a worry in the world. These passenger types are difficult to profile. While a few who obviously love to project self-importance betray their serious lack of self-esteem, I am still unsure what percentage of the rest are actually deaf or impaired in at least one ear. Surely, for one oblivious to their surroundings and insensitive of others, you would assume there must be some parts missing. Sad thing is, no amount of make-up, fancy clothes and chic talk can mask utter lack of empathy.
All the above, crammed into the common man’s day-to-day riding experience, is almost always the rule and not the exception. In the end, it’s a jab at you, dear fortuners and aircon-blessed, comfy-riding whiners in this multi-verse called the streets.
There is a Paul Simon song that goes, one man’s floor is another man’s ceiling, and by that it means, although one in our journey, we are actually worlds apart. To zoom in further, in this here traffic-jammed existence, your stalled kind-of-hell is waaay more heavenly when compared to our own stalled kind-of-hell. So, stop it already, because the traffic light has turned yellow!