Long Rides: The Good and The Bad of Commuting

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This photo shows one of Cebu’s main roads - Mango Avenue. I got stuck in traffic last summer and it was one of the horrible things I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. 
One of the reasons why I don’t like to go to the city when there’s nothing very important to do is the long commute. I live about 14 kilometers away from the heart of the city. So whenever I need to go there for classes or meetings or appointments, I have to get ready two hours before the scheduled time. The commute takes an hour and if I’m unlucky (which I usually am), I have to bear an hour sitting in a crammed jeepney. 
Commuting is stressful. I dislike the fact that I have to wake up very early to avoid being late to a 7:30AM class. What’s even worse is that sometimes I endure all the stress of commuting only to find out that my teacher decides to ditch the class. I dislike the fact that sometimes I get text messages about spontaneous meetings when I’m still at home or on the way home. Honey, I don’t do spontaneous meet-ups. 
When it’s rush hour, I have to squeeze myself in a crammed jeepney just so I won’t be late to an appointment. This would mean that I have to bear a stranger’s strong smell. Sometimes it can be the smell of perfume, but most of the time its body odor (yes even if its still morning).  
I dislike the fact that sometimes I sit beside annoying passengers like girls with long hair who don’t tie them; or old women who talk loudly on their phones from the very start of the ride until they reach their destination; or strangers who don’t pass your fare to the driver even if you’ve called their attention politely twice or thrice. 
I could go on and on. But here’s the thing: no matter how stressful commuting might be, there are moments when your faith in humanity would somehow be restored. 
Last Tuesday, I had a terrible commute. It was a long day and I was eager to go home just like everybody else. My last class ended around seven in the evening. It’s usually “rush hour” for students and employees to go home, change into comfy pambahay outfits, put their feet up, and enjoy a TV show or a movie. 
It’s quite difficult to get a ride during those times. I had to wait long, and squeezed myself inside a jam-packed jeepney. Well, I managed to sit but only a few inches of my right butt cheek. I had to hold on to the metal bars and hope the driver won’t step on the break pedal abruptly. Then there’s this girl sitting beside me (who goes to the same school I go to) and tried to give me more space to sit on. She tried to move a few inches until I was sitting okay. 
One time there was this woman who was in the same situation that I was in, in the previous paragraph. She had to bear sitting on the edge of the seat and in between two huge guys. But there was this guy sitting comfortably across her. Seeing that the woman was slipping every time the jeepney breaks, he offered his seat to her and opted to hold on to the metal bars. I guess, chivalry isn’t quite dead yet.
There are times when I eavesdrop on people’s conversations, but only the ones that I find interesting. While I was on my way home one night, this man asked another stranger to hold his daughter (I think she was 4 or 5 years old) while he holds on to the metal bars. An old man agreed and then they had a heart-melting conversation. They talked about the man’s cheating wife and how things had been hard for him after what happened. I remember the man say, “Bahala na akong asawa sa unsa iyang buhaton basta kay ako maningkamot jud ko para sa akong mga anak kay palangga kaayo nako sila” (I don’t care what my wife does anymore. What matters is, I have to work hard for my children because I love them very much.) In that moment, I wish I could give the man a hug and tell him everything’s going to be okay, but it would be weird because they’ll know that I was listening to their conversation haha.
Sometimes the public utility vehicles can be a place where you can have deep thoughts. Put your earphones on, turn up the volume (because from where I live, sometimes the jeepney’s music can be louder than yours), and think about life. The jeepney seat can be a good thinking chair, you know ;) 

It’s things like this that somehow makes me forget the stress of commuting. 
I can’t hate it
Sure, there are more than a bunch of reasons why it sucks (the ones I’ve mentioned above plus scary snatching scenarios), but there are also a bunch of good things that you only get to experience through it. Just make sure you have loads and loads of patience and vigilance too. Sometimes commuting can be dangerous and that’s another story.
How about you guys? What are the good and bad things that you experience or observe while commuting? 

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