I am not cut out to be a commuter. I could walk, I know.
The title above is self-explanatory, but allow me to elaborate.
Yes, I do enjoy the ease and the relative comfort of just sitting back and letting another person negotiate with trucks barreling towards your lane at 350 kph, cute little kids deciding that it is time to play patintero on a lonely stretch of national highway at the exact moment you decide to speed up to test how fast your vehicle could go (and wonder, as an aside, if the brakes work), or representatives of endangered fauna standing in the middle of the road and wondering where their rainforest has gone.
Yes, I can sit back and daydream… even enjoy a long snooze while I leave it to another soul to take me to my destination. I do not need to worry about the fuel gauge, the state of the wheels, the shortcuts to take, nor of any police task force setting up road blocks in the middle of the night in the middle of dark highways, usually on town boundaries, to supposedly minimize the crime rate in the city by hauling away confiscated two-wheeled vehicles by the hundreds and leaving thousands of people stranded during the night while at the same time, the big goons just drive by in their SUVs (that’s the anarchist in me talking).
In all, being a passenger would suit me just fine. However, things take an ugly turn if we are talking about a certain high noon when the rains have let up leaving the streets a casserole of mud, muckus, and grime when a certain somebody just got off a passenger jeepney and decided to try hailing a tricycle to escape the noonday sun that made the puddles seethe and writhe in evaporation-has-come ecstasy.
Hailing a tricycle in this une petite ville is not for the fainthearted or for those with low self esteem (pretty much myself), but maybe for those who are learning how to kill the ego. For even if there is a city mandate that all public-utility vehicle must accept passengers for the fact that those vehicles are there to serve the commuting public, becoming a passenger in one of these rarified objets is harder than auditioning for a slot in Pinoy Big Brother.
I have a suspicion that, like a Victorian marriage, the generic tricycle driver has a certain set of criteria for taking in passengers, namely (nope, destination does not count):
the vigor of the would-be passenger’s manner of hailing a tricycle
manner of dressing of the would-be passenger that bespeaks of the potential to pay the fare
if it would cost him less in terms of fuel to take you to your destination. sorry for those who live on hilly areas… taking you on would mean more expense for him. but for about a hundred pesos… well…
Try hailing one that already contains a passenger by raising a hand in a 40-degree angle away from the waist and the probabiliy of catching the driver’s attention for him to slow down a bit for you to call out your destination would be from 0% to 5%.
Raise the arm 90 degrees up and frantically wave your hand at a speeding conglomeration of metal, disregarding the risk that the tricycle’s brakes may be faulty and you could end up as an amputee with your antics, and the chances of catching the driver’s attention, given that he already has a passenger, would jump to 50% or so. Still, there are statistics showing that the 50% probability would still depend on how well dressed you are while doing the 90-degree wave.
Take note that the probabilities fall with inclement weather or times of day when the sun is at the zenith or when you are in a big hurry.
It will be a very miraculous miracle if the driver would take you as another passenger if you do not meet the criteria mentioned above.
This is as far as I would take my low self esteem issues out on those beknighted tricycle drivers. (Tata was once a driver himself.) But here’s the good part… owing to the fact that this city where I live in is still small (note of optimism here), I could always opt to walk to where I want to go. Walking could help me save money, is eco-friendly, it adds to my exercise routine, and it lessens my everyday stress levels. But that’s another story.