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:
Just recently, the bus I rode from Batangas to Manila broke down. At 4:45 AM. Eeegsh.

It may have been my Karma for the week before that, I didn't remind the bus conductor that he hadn't collected my bus fare yet. Teeheee
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