It was a Sunday afternoon, when I took a jeepney ride to church. I have always been used to driving my own car wherever I went, but that day, I was too lazy to look for a parking space and my temper with jeepney drivers on the street was short, so I opted to commute; told myself that this was just an uneventful ten minute ride.
I walked hurriedly towards the waiting shed as I glanced at my watch, “Great! Fifteen minutes. There was more than ample time for me to go to church and choose a good spot next to a wall fan.”
I hated sweating at church. Going to a crowded place was enough, having to sweat it out while listening to the sermon was another, so I had better be there before everyone else did.
Saw this old rusted jeepney with an equally old driver who had a smirk on his face waving at me. I nodded my head to indicate that I was going to take a ride. I noticed a middle aged lady with tattered clothes, who was seated beside him. She appeared to be his wife. She was holding a baby, apparently their own. An old man and a middle aged woman with a baby? What were they thinking?
She was bottle feeding while shouting “Sangandaan! Sangandaan! Tatlo pa, dalawa sa kanan at isa sa kaliwa.” (Three more, two on the right and one on the left.)
I seated myself on the right side and as usual, my space was constricted, even when I had positioned myself in a space for two. But there were three more passengers who wanted to get in.
A young man in his early twenties, right about my age with a body of a mason, left his seat and told the three ladies to get inside. One sat on my right side and the other two sat opposite us near the entrance of the jeepney.
As soon as the ladies were seated, he stepped at the foot of the entrance and held onto the handle bar above his head to maintain his balance.
The lady nearest him said, “Thanks!” in a sweet way. He said, “You’re welcome,” and smiled.
I figured it was just a macho display and I could have done the same too, but I wasn’t expecting them to get in since it was already crowded.
Seated opposite me was a lady with a child on her lap. She looked like in her early thirties, but old for her age. They were both sweating profusely. Probably because of the heat inside the jeepney or because she was carrying a child on her lap in a crowded jeepney. I could see the trickle of sweat on their cheeks and necks. There was air moving inside, but barely, because it was full.
The lady seated the farthest brought out a folded Php100 bill. The lady with a child on her lap reached for it with some discomfort and gave the money to the child.
“Anak, sabihin mo sa driver ito ang bayad nung ale,” (My child, tell the driver, this is the lady’s payment) she said softly to the child.
The child, obediently stretched out her thin arm to reach as far as she could to the driver. “Bayad po!” (Here’s the payment) she said gingerly as another person reached for the money to give the driver.
She looked at her mother as if asking if she did okay. Her mother returned a look of approval.
I asked myself, why would you let a child do such a thing when you can already do it yourself. Wasn’t it enough to suffer from the sauna- like heat we are all in? Then again, why didn’t the child mind?
The driver was shaking his head when he saw the money. It was a Php100 bill.
A small voice inside the jeepney piped, “Mama, tatlo po, pakibaba po kami sa simbahan.” (Mister, three please, let us off at the church).
The driver, still shaking his head, honked his horn. I felt the jeepney slowing down. I thought there was no one getting off this place. I didn’t hear any “para.” (stop).
The jeepney driver hailed the oncoming jeepney ahead of us. “Pre, pakibarya naman to,” (Man, can you break this down) he said casually, handing over the Php 100 bill.
As if on cue, the other driver produced four twenties and two five peso coins. “Ayos na ba yan?” (Good enough for you?) The other driver grunted.
“Oo! Salamat!” (Yeah! Thanks!) he replied.
It looked like we slowed down traffic but that worked! He was able to break the money and gave the change to the lady.
As the lady received her change, one of the five peso coins fell on the floor. The man opposite her, who obviously was old with his white hair and wrinkled face, bent down to pick up the coin that was glued at the back of his left shoe. He looked like he was in pain. He calmly handed the money to the lady, who seemed very pleased with what the old man did.
“Thank you very much!” she said sweetly.
I observed the reaction of the old man. There was a hint of satisfaction on his face.
Just then I heard a loud shrieking voice. “Mama, pwede mo ako ibaba sa Pharmacy?” (Mister, can you please drop me off at the pharmacy?) said the lady seated to my left.
She was a middle aged woman with a heavy bag on her lap. Some medicines, syringes and tubes were in the box. She looked like she was going to deliver the bag to the pharmacy and her wandering eyes told me that she was new to this area; she was anxiously looking for familiar landmarks and checking her phone…maybe instructions from her text messages.
“Okay,” said the driver. “Sa kabilang kanto lang yun tapos nito.
Sana sinabi n’yo agad,” (It’s just another block after this one. You should have told me earlier.)
There was a hint of irritation in the driver’s voice. But he looked at his wife, who was just laughing from what he said.
“Kumbinsing ka Pedro!” (You sound convincing Pedro!) she said then laughed again.
I wasn’t able to hear more because the jeepney suddenly halted to a complete stop.
An old man, had suddenly crossed the street! I heard a lot of “Ohs!” and “Ahs!” from the passengers. Sardines have more space in their cans than we did.
The driver, his eyes flaring, leapt out of the car and raced to the old man. I was flabbergasted! I thought he was going to hit the poor fellow, but he held the older man’s arm and assisted him. “Nasaktan ba kayo?” (Are you hurt?) He said in a concerned voice.
“Hindi anak. Nawalan ako ng balans nung nakita ko ang jeep mo.
Di na kaya kumilos ng katawan na ito kagaya noong kabataan ko. Pasensya na kung naabala ka,” (No my boy. I got off balance when I saw your jeepney. This body doesn’t respond like it used to when I was in my youth. I apologize to have inconvenienced you.)
“Nah…” he disagreed. “Ikaw ang muntik nang maabala! Ayoko naman makita ang pirapirasong parte ng katawan n’yo sa kalsada ano ho?” (You are the one who’s almost inconvenienced! Don’t want to see your body in pieces on the street now, do we?)
The old man laughed and let Pedro assist him to the other side of the street.
He went back to his driver’s seat and turned his sweaty head towards us. “Ayos lang ba kayo?” (Is everyone ok?) he asked.
After witnessing the events that just happened, everyone just said, “Okay lang kami,” (We’re ok.)
I looked at my watch and noticed two minutes before the start of the mass.
“I’m never gonna find a good seat now!” I murmured to myself.
The lady going to the pharmacy got out where she wanted to go. The next stop was the church.
The three ladies got off, even the guy who gave his seat for them was going to church. In the church pews, he sat beside the lady he had offered his jeepney-seat to.
I found a seat next to an electric fan and thought about the events that has transpired. Commuting wasn’t uneventful after all.
The lessons I have learned from a fifteen-minute jeepney ride was equivalent to a sermon at mass; learning from them as they happened.
To love regardless of age and status. Be generous with what you have so others may do the same. Teach a child how to help other people and instill this in her. Provide a helping hand even with the risk of getting hurt. To have patience, to give respect, and to have faith.
There are subtle things in life that go unnoticed until you look for them. The qualities of a good person would surface regardless of his appearance and first impressions. Such, are examples of our human nature that is naturally good.
The ordinary things we do in our lives become extraordinary every time these deeds are done with the proper intentions.
Acting righteous, like true Christians, in each of the above situations is a significant lesson we could learn from. In every predicament, we should make ethical choices not only as a fulfillment of His religious rituals, but also as a manner of rendering service to other people, beyond the boundaries of His Church.
Since that day, I always looked forward to my next commute to church.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zorlone is the pen name of Dr. Lorenzo Bernardino, a 31 year old, internal medicine consultant who has a passion for writing. He writes poems, short stories and various topics on life, love and almost anything under the sun.
He has joined the writing community of Helium and is looking forward to adding more interesting articles about all topics. There are already 15 poems to his name.
He says: “I love to play badminton, volleyball, ping pong, and jogging. I welcome a healthy competition every once in a while.”
He is a promising writer and has his own style but is humble to acknowledge it saying that;
” I admit that I still have a lot to go before I can master this art form. I am willing to learn and to hear your thoughts about the articles that I have written. Hopefully, be able to create a style of my own and gain the enthusiasm of my readers.”
He recently started a blog entitled ZORLONE. It’s a new blog and he needs all the support we can accord him. If you recall your first experience as a newbie blogger, then I know you would understand his plight. Let’s extend our generous hand.
Let’s all welcome him into our midst – Zorlone!