Thursday, March 15, 2007



I’ve always believed in the theory of firsts: that in anything you do regularly, you will always encounter a first. A carpenter, no matter how careful, will experience hitting a thumb with a hammer; a singer, no matter how good, will experience a bad crowd; a doctor, despite extreme vigilance, will inevitable give out a wrong diagnosis. A regular bus rider, no matter what, will experience at least once in a life time:

A bus hold up
A pick pocket incident
Forgetting to get change from the bus conductor
Falling asleep and missing the drop off point

Today, I experienced a first: the total breakdown of a bus on the South Super Highway (SLEX). Below is a rough chronology of this morning’s bus adventure:

1. Omens. We had just left the Alabang interchange. There was a Tagalong movie playing on the TV, but then something is wrong. The video display suddenly went on fast forward. The
conductor ignores this the same way everyone ignores the movie.

2. The bus, upon approaching the Sucat Interchange, makes a lot of funny sounds. Imagine a rusty robot Godzilla sinking in quicksand made up of twisted metal. We stop in the middle of the road. Minutes pass, and the unmistakable scent of a burnt clutch permeates the air. It’s the scent of burnt rubber on a rainy day.

Beside me, two girls become anxious. One whispers under her breath “exciting to”.

3. The conductor tries to fix things. No go. A cop from the nearby Sucat terminal arrives and he orders the driver to prepare to be towed. Everyone disembarks save for those who want a refund for the bus fare. When I got down the bus, I cross to the side of the highway to join the other passengers. We hope for another bus to pick us up.

4. The tow truck arrives. The cop tells us to ride the bus again so that the tow truck can bring us to the safety of the Sucat toll gates. We get there, disembark, and walk towards the bus stop. I get to ride another bus for Ayala-Edsa.

5. Comedy of errors: I rode the wrong bus on the Sucat Interchange. I go down on Buendia a
nd I take the MRT back to Ayala. Sigh. I get to the office late by an hour. I would’ve been a rotten day if not for the conversation that I overheard on my second bus ride of the day:

Man 1: Lakas siguro makina nyan (pointing to a tow truck with a bus in tow. The towed bus is the one th
at broke down on me)
Man 2: Bai! Kaya nyan hilahin bahay nyo!
(both laugh)
Man 3: (in a very serious manner) di a!

So I said to myself: “Breakdowns can be fun too!”

curiosity killed the cat:

Thursday, March 01, 2007



I saw a very idiosyncratic thing today: a woman paid for her bus fare and placed her tickets in a heart shaped card board container that is held together by four rubber bands. I’m looking at two assumptions here: she once had a very bad experience with a bus ticket checker over some misplaced tickets or she lives a life of 1000 details. Either way, I do have to admit that I once placed some undue stress on bus tickets which, if you really think about it, are really important and useless all at the same time. I guess it really depends on how you see it or on how you treat your bus tickets:

The Watch Way

Those who ascribe to this method of ticket handling are often men with big watches. It’s really simple; just fold the ticket a couple of times until you can easily slide it under your watchband. Variations include the use of a ring or tight bracelet. A side note though: I was once a witness to a guy who slid old bus tickets under his watch band in the hopes of misleading the bus conductor to thinking that he already has tickets. He got caught and I felt a bit embarrassed for him.

The “Where-There’s-a-Nook-and-Cranny” Way

This is probably the most popular of bus ticket handling in the Philippines. Probably because a. no one really wants to keep bus tickets and when the destination is reached, they shift from essential proof of payment to garbage and b. it’s a bit fun to do and doing what everyone is doing plays big in our innate nature to blend in. The “Where-There’s-a-Nook-and-Cranny” Way is really easy to pull off: just fold the ticket and find the nearest spot where it can be inserted to. Popular spots are bus windows and the tears in the faux leather of the bus seats.

The Keep and Dispose at Home Way

Those who do this have some form of personality quirk or maybe even a phobia that ranges from mild to deep seated. I keep my bus tickets in a small open pouch on my bag because I have this very irrational fear that I’d lose them and once the bus checker comes around, he’d think that I’m trying to weasel my way out of paying the bus fare. Sheeesh. Either way, it’s really better to get some peace of mind than to suffer an anxiety filled bus trip over a bunch of misplaced bus tickets. So.

I’ve been riding busses since grade school and I have done a lot of things with my bus tickets: from making origami ducks, planes and boats to placing them in the donation envelopes of bus preachers to using them as an emergency replacement for tissue when I accidentally got in contact with some unknown jell-o goop (don’t ask). Bottom line, we all do our thing with the small pieces of paper that we get from the bus conductor. The lady in the intro above, for all we know, keeps her bus tickets so that she can recycle them ( for Christmas cards. Me, I just keep em where its safe and that’s that.

curiosity killed the cat:

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