Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Commuting along Edsa

I rarely drive the car nowadays. The only time I get to drive a car is when it is Lenten and Christmas season. From work I ride the MRT, the local train system on EDSA, it takes around ten to twenty minutes to reach Cubao. If you take the train at around 3.00 it is highly probable that you will get a seat. Past four or five when the volume of passengers geometrically increases the least like you will get a seat plus the train gets crowded. Most experienced mrt patrons from Makati would resort to taking a roundtrip in order to get a seat. A roundtrip is when you ride the South-bound train up to the last station, from Ayala that is around just a station away, and riding the next North-bound train leaving the last station. This way one get to seat or at least secure a comfortable place to stand, usually the area between the two coaches. I do this whenever I have to go home late and when the number of people, waiting for the North-bound train at the Ayala Station, fill the platform. It is important to remember if you are doing the roundtrip method of riding the MRT to give up your seat to a lady, senior citizen and differently abled individuals coming in from the next station. Better yet find a comfortable place to stand. Going to work I ride the FX Tamaraw. The FX as it is more popularly know in a Toyota Asian Utility Vehicle (AUV) used to ferry people on land from places like Cubao to Makati. From Cubao to Makati, specifically Paseo de Roxas in my case cost around 35 pesos per passenger. The FX jazzed-up version of the jeepney can seat around eleven people, including the driver. Interesting things FX rides the more regular you ride it the more familiar you become with your co-passengers. I usually take the first trip of the day, this usually leaves around 6:00 to 6:30 am. The FXs are driven by retired and off-duty cops and military men. So it is not uncommon to see Philippine National Police (PNP) uniform inside the car or special license plate with PARAK , Pilipino slang for cop, on the front of the car. There are of course well maintened FXs and ill-maintained FXs and punters develop preference for specific FXs and drivers. Among the FX drivers I think Mang Elmer a big sanguine man would be the favorite driver of the commuters. His FX is always clean and nice smelling. The air-conditioning system works. He often goes out of his way to drop off his passengers near their destination. Mang Elmer is also quite the gabber but not in the negative sort of way. Always smiling and accomodating to his passengers. Aside from Elmer and his other colleague who is just called Sarge one meets and become familiar with the other people sharing the ride with you. The BIR guy who seems to be on friendly terms with the FX drivers. Matrons working at the different government offices in Makati. People in their twenties working in Makati. The woman who had unkempt hair, which she cropped after a month or two. Her hair is still unkempt but now shorter. May be she got tired of wearing it long. This pseudo-familiarity becomes apparent one of your fellow-commuter goes missing. Questions you think about as the FX traverses Edsa: Are they on leave? Sick or Vacation leave? Or maybe they may be working for a new company? New shifit schedule or new location? Or were they fired or lost their job, of course you hope not. But you wonder what became of them. You notice a lot of things when you are commuting.


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