Catching the morning train from the pedestrian-packed platforms of Quezon Avenue station whilst en route to the heart of Pioneer street in Mandaluyong City on a Monday (of all days) is more than a person working for a leading media organization can handle.
Yup, reading that one sentence alone sums up that morning’s offering of peace, love and tranquility of travel to every man, woman and pick-pocket trying to catch a ride (or your wallet) on the old, narrow, heaving coaches of the Metro Rail Transit Authority. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then chances are, you belong to one of the richest families in the country (and have never experienced the joys of traveling around the metro via public transport), you take the bus or a cab when you go through EDSA or (my best guess is) you just came out of a coma.
What can be more exciting than to wake up early in the morning so you can look forward to a blissful experience riding the MRT, that is, if you can actually get into one? Catching the train is one thing, what with all the boxing-out of the men and the hustling about of the women and the carefully executed pushing and shoving of the crook eyeing your cell phone as you try to squeeze into the train, getting into one is a whole different ballgame from where you stand on the platform. Stand too close and you’re in danger of getting pushed over the “yellow line” (which should not be stepped on as the lady on the paging system keeps on telling the passengers every time a train comes) and down into the tracks. Stand too far from the “yellow line” and you won’t even have any likelihood, whatsoever of getting near the “yellow line”. Well, you could always play it safe and plunk yourself right smack in the middle of those too close and those far off. But that would put you in the mercy of your friendly neighborhood pick-pocket as you are the most vulnerable of the lot to be his prey given the mob around you incessantly pushing and shoving you and everyone else so they can get in the train, you won’t even know what hit you if it hit you right smack in the willy.
What do you do, then? Well, if you’re not in a hurry, you can wait it out until you see less people trying to get in and sense more space between you and the other passengers. Keep your wits about you and hang around a bit, say 45-60 minutes. Or, if you’re already running late and you can’t get the face of your happy and contented boss (wait until he finds out that you’re still not around) off your skull, then I suggest you do what every sane human being should do. Walk to work. But seriously, you can ride the bus or a jeepney. Or, you can get a cab. Well, of course you have to pay more, you only get what you give.
Would you rather be caught dead in a blown-up version of a can of Spanish sardines (my apologies to both the Spanish and the sardines) or in the hands of your pleased and delighted boss? Yup, I thought so, too. When you're late for work and you have no choice but to ride the ever-dependable trains of the Philippines, what do you do? You swallow you're pride, brace yourself to ride that thing and pray that you will be safe from any and all not so positive energies present in and around the train, if you get my drift. Once you get out--if you do get out--pucker up, gather your crumpled self and stand tall... You just survived another day in our own version of Paradise. Oh, and please do check your personal effects.
As for myself, frankly, I’d rather catch the flu many times over than the %#$@*^! morning train!
And as every story begins, you know it has to end sometime. Before I know it, nine hours have passed and it's time for me to go home. As Usher would put it, OMG! Here we go again...