Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to be kind in a cramped jeepney

Various jeeps in the metropolis. Special thanks to Richard.

The perils of the daily commute include numerous instances of losing one's cool. The jeepney, for instance, is minefield of occasions that test one's mettle--from getting on to hopping off. First, you have to be patient with the driver, who thinks he can smoke his way to heaven just because the vehicle is open air. Then, there are fellow passengers to contend with, ones who don't care whether or not you step on their feet while trying to squirm your way to the seat they left vacant for you, right behind the smoke-belching driver.

Well, to help make commuting more bearable, you have to keep a happy disposition, and if you stick by these Rules of Kindness, you can help others stay happy as well.

1. Be small. A jeepney is admittedly not one of the most spacious modes of transportation around. And it's even worse when it's rush hour and everyone tries to squeeze in, never mind that people.can't.breathe.anymore. So one good way to help others is to shrink--that is, try to take as little space as possible. Put your bag in your lap, push back both feet away from the center of the aisle, keep those elbows in, and sit straight. When you take up little space, that person who thought he would have to be "sabit" might actually find himself a seat.

2. Let people coming in find a seat nearer the entrance. The jeepney is filling up, and one bad habit passengers have is to squeeze themselves as close to the entrance/exit side as possible. Okay, so everyone wants to be able to hop off as soon as they get to their stop, but think about that poor last passenger whose balance is tried as he makes his way to that empty space near the driver the moment the jeep starts accelerating to Full Speed Ahead. It's actually dangerous--just like trying to fasten your seat belt in a carnival ride after the ride has started moving--but nobody seems to care because perhaps nobody has slipped and fallen to oblivion before. Must we wait for an accident to happen before being a little more charitable?

3. Let people getting off exit with grace (and without harassment). You can practically say that a jeepney is the one place in which men and women sit hip to hip and thigh to thigh without any malice. The harassment I'm talking about here is the doom-cloud feeling that people won't let you off at this stop because they are so eager to get on even when there is no breathing space seat available inside.

There are those chaotic jeepney loading zones that don't have the word "pila" in their vocabulary, and so the mob that welcomes the newly-arrived jeepney practically pushes back in those people trying to get out. Once, when I was getting off at Eastwood, the mob tumbled right into the jeepney and one lady decided she would like to sit on my lap all the way to Cubao before I cried, "Bababa ako!!!"

Common sense dictates that nothing can occupy a space already occupied, so having a little patience in waiting for occupant to vacate coveted wormhole is an act of kindness.

4. Assist the driver and fellow passengers by being willing to help pass the payment/change to and fro. No one has extendable arms, so kindly pass the money and nobody gets hurt. Feigning sleep... for what? You don't want to get your hands dirty by touching loose change? How did you pay for your own ride again?

5. Help the "para" whisperers be heard. Jeepney drivers are a curious type of Homo sapiens sapiens. They have incredible voices that can call you from one block away. They have keen eyesight that can spot a potential passenger 200-500 meters away. They have impressive math skills that can keep track of calculations for change demanded by harried passengers who have no coins. In fact, they can calculate and drive at the same time. But one thing they are not good at is to hear pleas of "Para!" over the loud hip hop music to which they all seem to prefer going deaf. When somebody has said "para" twice already with no apparent results, it's time for you to intervene and echo the "para" too.

6. Refrain from any outward show of temper. All right, you may be the victim. Fine, justice dictates you've got the upper hand. But that's no excuse to mutter under your breath, make loud tutting sounds, or shoot the evil eye at anyone. Just remember this: in a cramped jeepney, everyone is not comfortable, everyone just wants to go home, and everyone is tired. Don't be the sore one who loses cool. It won't facilitate anything anyway.

7. Pay up! You see those signs in some jeepneys that go "God knows HUDAS not pay" and think they're funny, but in a cramped jeep, there are people who really just "forget" about paying up. Just this morning, the jeep driver called after somebody who got off at Eastwood when he said he was getting off at Cubao. Nope, he didn't pay! All the driver could do was holler [insert unkind words here]. Dude, you may not have taken anything, but not paying for a service you availed of is injustice, plain and simple. To be blunt, it's called stealing. And as the funny sign reminds us, even if nobody noticed, "God knows."


So, there you have it! Can you think of other ways to be kind in a cramped jeepney? I'd love to hear them :-)


Anonymous said...

this is my chance to rant about the jeepneys in this country

1. i absolutely hate how jeepney drivers fill the jeepney 10 people beyond capacity. it makes it hard on people to get their money out to pay the driver. and i get just as mad at the people who squish their way into the jeepney.

2. i hate the people who sit in the very back because they are so lazy to go up to the front to pay the driver. these people will just sit in the back and wait for people to come in so that someone else can pass up their fare.

3. if youre going to sit in the back and be lazy, please pay with a small denomination. these people pay with 100s, making it the jeepney driver to give change, and making it hard for people to transfer your change.

4. i hate people(and this is most common in pampanga) that tell the jeepney driver to stop literally two feet after being stopped. somebody tells the jeepney driver to stop and then that person gets down. then the driver travels two feet and another passenger tells the driver to stop. is it really that hard to walk out two more feet?

5. why is the front such a great seat? im sitting up there with absolutely nobody in the back, but yet the next person joins me up front.

6. the people in front that sit with you(this is most common with girls, i have yet to see a guy do this). there is someone in front with you and you have the inner seat(the one closer to the driver) and you tell the jeepney driver to stop. the person on the outer seat will just sit there and expect you to climb over them. why dont you get down and out of the jeep so i dont have to climb over you to get out?

7. the people who do not pay. you might be running from the jeep without paying, but youre running straight to hell.

petrufied said...

#4 - oh right, that problem causes traffic to slow; it happens a lot in MM too. Perhaps if designated loading and unloading zones were clearer this could be avoided.

Thanks for your comments!