Month: December 2007

Commuting gripe (or how i wish i was not wearing high heels today)

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):

  1. the vigor of the would-be passenger’s manner of hailing a tricycle 
  2. manner of dressing of the would-be passenger that bespeaks of the potential to pay the fare
  3. 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.

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Don’t wait for tomorrow…

 

I’m awash with grief.

And I must apologize beforehand to anybody who would be reading this post. Sorry for putting a damper on the festivities.

Anyway… it came about like this:

Ten months ago, the woman who used to tend my brother’s grave died of bone cancer and other complications.

The death of my brother had made her family and mine close over the years, and there were numerous moments we’d spend sitting by my brother’s grave talking of life, of death, of the preciousness of our loved ones and the necessity of telling them how much we love them while we are still alive, lest we run out of time because we are suddenly invited to a one-way, all-expense-paid holiday with the Grim Reaper.

Now, this woman was quite rough on the edges. She used to bawl out instructions and reprimands (often reprimands and threats of bodily harm, although never carried out) to her assorted family members who usually romped around the cemetery, using the gravestones and the usual bric-a-brac of the memorial park for their kiddy enjoyment, and she usually was unkempt, hair reenacting World War II, face smudged with mud, and clothes furred with Bermuda grass, after spending the entire day cutting cemetery grass and scrubbing the gravestones to earn a living. And yet… I would say that she was always full of love and generosity; gentleness, even.

This morning, I went to the cemetery with my mother and Tata, Faith, and Tata’s father. The woman’s husband was there. After all those months since his wife died, he still looked shell-shocked and lost — like anyone who would after losing someone so dear to them. Still, he managed to smile and converse with us about mundane things. Nevertheless, his aching and loneliness borne out of his wife’s death made it unavoidable for him to insert snippets of what was once were his wife’s habits, her usual reactions to things, and her general take on life.

As he talked of how, in their thirty-three years of marriage, he has never seen anybody as forgiving and as gentle as the woman for whom he left his former job as a chemist (the wife told me about it some years ago) early in their marriage. That for the thirty-three years they were together, there was peace and harmony in their home. That he was always pampered, a ready steaming cup of coffee always at hand after a long day’s work, the kids well-fed and happy, the grandchildren growing up with potentially good manners.

He told us of how, in the last days of his wife, he took her for a drive all over the nearby towns, visiting their favorite and memorable places… for her, it was for the last time. for him, it was as a desperate bid that it wasn’t going to be the final road trip they will take together as a couple.

But the Moirae have already done their work; Clotho has stopped spinning her wheel. Lachesis has stopped her hand after a full width of measure. Finally, Atropos was already poised with the dreadful scissors. Time was slipping.

His wife’s illness progressed and made him sell their invested properties and several personal possessions at rock-bottom prices, just so he could buy the medicine that, although could alleviate the pain of the cancer, wasn’t any help at all in prolonging the life of his beloved.

She died on March 6 of this year. On her deathbed, she bade his husband farewell, asked him to come nearer so she could kiss him for the last time. She gave her final injuction, that time not bawling out as she usually did, but in the softest whisper of someone who hears Death calling her out the door.

He buried her in the grave supposedly reserved for himself. He made apologies, half to us and half to his wife’s spirit, that the gravestone was still temporary — he is a tombstone engraver by trade. He told us he was having a hard time carving out his beloved’s face on the black marble he chose for the grave marker. His final offering, a show of his love.

After his telling, the husband smiled. “Bernie,” he softly said, murmuring his wife’s name as a prayer. “She showed me what love is all about.”

…stumbling through…

Nothing’s definite yet so pardon me if I don’t go into the details of the foggy experiences I’ve been accumulating since October 1.

I tried to be faithful in my writings, especially in this journal, but my time is tied to what has been happening these past months. Suffice to say that it involves having a paycheck again. Hopefully, I can give a punto per punto accounting by mid-January…

There is a cause for personal celebration: My muse has returned after a long vacation in the Bahamas, tanned and lithe. Ever since she got back, she’s constructively distracted me by insisting that I smell every flower by the roadside — weeds and thorn-bearing flora included — and take impressions. I haven’t written anything down but my brain is again swimming in a vat of nonsensical(?) data from all those nature trips with The Muse. I’m loving it! Yet one of these days I’ll be needing a Pensieve to empty out my overloaded head.

Happy Yuletide Season, everybody!!! may this season shower you and your loved ones with the blessings of love, mirth, and abundance!