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Friday, February 5, 2010

Drivers, Train Passengers, Ants and Me

This world is a survival of the fittest. In the morning, having decided I would not be late for my 7 am class, I take a 14-peso tricycle ride to the train station every weekday. With the tricycles being rampant on the streets, one would easily figure some of these drivers face tough competition everyday. When I was still new on the street where I live, I would walk to the main road to get one but after a few months, just about 15 steps from the house, a tricycle would come to my direction. I get on the tricycle and I know I don’t even have to tell them where I am going. I figured, rumor has it to them that there’s a girl on this street who takes a tricycle at around 6:30 A.M. on weekdays. Watch for her.

At the LRT station, I would see a display of different emotions and physical conditions. Some eyebrows crossed with sweat all over the face; some smiling at a text message; some group of schoolmates giggling their lungs out; some nursing student’s eyes glued on a 10-kg book; some vendor with goodies in huge, heavy, plastic bags and me, sometimes having woken from the right side of the bed, becoming amused by them, sometimes in a flat, neutralized mood to only care about one thing: squeeze my way into the jam-packed train, full of angry, complaining women. It’s not that good when it’s an early morning ride and some are either sleepy to be leaning their heads against your shoulders from time to time or too much in a hurry, they step on everyone’s toes (including yours) just to get a seat. Getting a seat on trains is a skill train-commuters like me have mastered. Tip number 1: in a tightly compressed crowd pressing towards the entrance, place your shoulders on top of the persons next to you. This will make you most likely arrive at the vacant seat first. Tip number 2: if the train is already jam-packed, try standing in front of those who are sitting. When they get off, you can take their place. Tip number 3: Learn to run fast.

My ride home is a different story. The train back is not that crowded (except when it’s raining and everyone just wants to arrive home). I can most probably sit, don’t hear much noise and can even make a mental assessment of my to-do list. This solemn state, though makes a sudden shift when I have finally arrived, meaning that I have to now audio-visually prepare myself to encounter the “descriptive” tricycle drivers. They are drivers who wait at the station, and who, by the sight of the passengers from the train compete with each other in trying to call their attention by describing their physical appearance and ask if they want a ride.

“Ateng nakaputi, sa’n ka? Sasakay ka ba?”

“Ateng nakapalda na may salamin…”

This is not a very good idea when there are days I think I don’t look that made up and feel conscious of how these drivers might scrutinize me and worse, verbally declare it for all the world to hear. They do this in chorus that the whole place suddenly turns into a cockpit or a racing arena. Not being pressured by time, I usually walk my way home. But when I have to, I don’t talk to these descriptive drivers and head straight to the nearest tricycle, regardless of how the driver described me or whether he did or not. I just want to get home.

When I arrived home today, I became thankful knowing that some ants (who are said to be hunting for food these days) have stopped feasting on my probably-sweet-(or salty?)-smelling clothes. There are like a gazillion of them everywhere, it looks like they are preparing for a huge, special, once in a lifetime event. They look very busy and passionate, they don’t seem to care if you’re watching them gather food from your laptop. Yes, even from a laptop. I am amazed by their patriotic spirit that has become like that of suicide bombers who risk dying for the fulfillment of a political principle, in their case, to provide food for their colony no matter what, or in today’s case: their once in a lifetime event (probably a 25th anniversary or something). Sometimes, I wish they have feelings and they will understand when you tell them to go away or stop biting you. But ants are not supposed to interact that way with humans so I decided to give up verbally venting out wrath on them. There is one thing I can’t stop doing, though: kill them, especially when it’s my skin they are now feasting on. It is my skin, my clothes and my laptop or their life. I just can’t request them to go somewhere else because like I said, they are ants.

Poor ants. I am sorry to be not supportive of their hunting thing but I’ve got things to do and it’s quite a hindrance with them all over the place.

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