Another day, another jeepney ride
With nothing better to talk about, I’ll let you in on what usually happens whenever I take the dreaded ride home via the jeep, the Philippine’s most wonderful mode of public transportation. (Yes, I’m too lazy to learn how to drive.)
It’s the second jeep I’m going to take to get home — luckily I’ve got Karen, my daily commuter buddy with me to deaden the pain. We wait at the side of the road for a jeep to pass by, like hookers waiting for the jackpot. Since it’s rush hour, there’s a crowd to contend with and it’s always good to keep in mind that everyone is your enemy and there is no such thing as mercy.
Finally, a jeep with just enough space to seat two people slows down before us. A vicious fight ensues as people rush towards the jeep like rabid wolves towards a particularly tasty treat. For some particular reason, God smiles upon a specific pair of students and helps them shove their way into the jeep.
Elbows fly, ribs are bruised, toes are stepped on. Egos of those who lost the fight are crushed, but keeping true to the Filipino way, the losers brush it off and gird themselves for the battle when the next jeep stops.
The vehicle then releases a loud belch of terrifyingly black smoke, which for some reason exactly fits the image I have of the locust plague descending upon the Egyptians’ crops.
To further celebrate the destruction of our environment, the driver decides to pop in one of those horrible tapes jeepney drivers seem to be given upon taking the “So You Want To Be a Jeepney Driver” Cosmo test. He cranks up the volume to ear-shattering proportions and I find myself slightly hypnotized by the awful Chimpmunks rendition of Missy Elliot’s Gossip Folks.
Soon, though, the discomfort of being squashed between Odor man and Medusa wrenches me back into reality. As the jeep flies along the highway breaking the sound barrier, Medusa’s hair comes to life and begins attacking my face, leaving no surface un-whipped. My hands come up in self-defense and I begin to claw through her hair to get to my face, something that I fear I might never see again if I don’t save it soon.
Breaking through for much-needed air, the jeep screeches into a stop in the middle of the road which makes Odor Man automatically raise his arm (the one near my face) to grab the handle on the ceiling. A scent of indescribable horror then smothers my already-battered face, threatening to suffocate me.
Thankfully, Odor Man realizes it’s his stop, so he leaves the jeep to mercifully let me live another day. Breathing easier, I wriggle in my seat, trying desperately to be a little bit more comfortable. A man then slides into the seat that Odor Man had just vacated. Apparently this one doesn’t have parents — no manners whatsoever. The files on his lap, of course, have its edges pointed towards my arm, viciously stabbing me with unrelentless force.
A sneaking suspicion that he might be doing this on purpose to gain more seating space lurks in my mind. Like the female I am, I defend my meager territory. With my arm on a ninety-degree angle, my arm slightly goes up and I slam my elbow violently into his ribs. He hisses in pain and turns to look at me with outrage. I return his glare with a wide-eyed, helpless look that I’ve already perfected, the look that has the lyrics of Gwen Stefani’s I’m Just a Girl all over it.
The enroacher tucks his tail between his legs and wriggles away from me, fearing the clumsy girl who might next destroy his manhood accidentally. No space is worth that, is it?
Karen, sitting across me, catches my eye and smiles sympathetically. I make this distorted face that makes me look like I’m suffering with gastric pains, which elicits a surprised look from the people beside her.
Settling in for the rest of the ride, I look around the jeep and spot a man who seems to be taking too much interest in the cut of my blouse. I bristle with feminine outrage and my features shift into bitch mode. As his eyes drift upward to my face (you gotta love these men) he realizes that I’m actually on to his oh-so-subtle ploy. His eyes skitter sidewards.
I give him five seconds.
Perv Man’s eyes sneakily slide to my face again and clashes with my accusing glare. Yes, I was staring at him that whole time, knowing that eventually he would look again. My eyebrow climbs even higher into my forehead. Finally the scum-that-he-is admits defeat and opts to look at some other hapless female.
The remaining few minutes are spent in blessed silence. Chipmunk 50 Cent tinnily belting out “It’s your birthday” is ignored.