WHY do I commute?

I was reflecting on this question while I was walking to the nearest jeepney stop yesterday. I had just finished my clinic duties for the morning and was off to my afternoon workplace.

I do not really need to commute but when I do (or want to), it is something that I have yet to hesitate doing. I really like it and a lot of my friends can attest to this as I often post pictures of videos of these trips on my social media wall. It is a regularly irregular activity that I like to do.

Bakit nga ba? I can just drive or ask to be driven to and from places. So. Bakeeet? Why do I commute? Whatever possessed me to want to do it in the first place? Is it because I’m kuripot? Is it because I am broke?

Well, it is because I can! I am now more able to ride public transportation because drivers actually stop to let me on their vehicles now! It is a far cry from so many years (and 155 pounds) ago when they pretended not to see me and even refused to let me ride! Yep! I had my share of ridicule and bullying in my younger days and now I see every jeepney ride as a celebration of my success!!

Quite honestly, I really enjoy commuting here in Davao City. Yes. Let us be clear on that. Here. In. Davao. I would not enjoy this as much (and probably would never do it unless I really had no choice), say, in Manila, but I have had similar satisfying commuter experiences in Baguio and Bacolod.

I don’t think that I am kuripot. I am not stingy, I am just wise-r. I take the jeep, tricycle, and trisikad more than I take taxis. Why? Because they cost so much less! My usual route only costs me eight to ten pesos per way. And since I have pretty much mastered time management in commuting, I am seldom late (or if I were, I would be for 15 minutes tops, or I take the taxi).

Of course, I appreciate the rides even more when I am broke! Who doesn’t? I appreciate the whole process of riding public vehicles. I appreciate the walking that I had to do to get to my jeep stops. Walking is good exercise! Aside from working off a few calories, you also get to enjoy the outdoors. I regularly get my dose of sunshine during these walks.

Sometimes, I even bump into friends. Just this week, I had the pleasure of bumping into my grade school classmate Gilbert while I was crossing the street at the traffic light near the Madrazo Fruit Stand. We don’t see each other regularly but we have been playing Words with Friends online for years! The surprise was, he introduced me to his colleague who, as it turns out, I also play Words With Friends with! It was such a joy to exchange pleasantries with old friends and shake hands with new ones! (And this is all because I walked to my jeepney stop that day!)

Many times too, I’ve had a good laugh, remembering friends’ faces, totally surprised seeing me either seated at the front seat of a jeep or riding at the back of a tricycle! Hahaha. Maybe it is unusual for doctors to commute? Is that it? I am sure there are others like me, right?

I like commuting because it makes me feel “connected” to every other person on the street. It reminds me of younger days when I would anticipate commuting with dread (because I had a hard time getting a ride).

It was difficult for the teenage me then but so much easier for the middle aged Nina now! Yeyy! When I ride a jeep/tricycle/trisikad, I am reminded of many things as much as I learn new things about people and places.

For example, how much Pinoys love music. Most of the time when I ride a jeep, there would at least be one person humming and listening to music. They usually had earphones connected to their mobile phones, blocking out regularly jeepney chatter.

This week, I rode with a woman who gave alms to children almost at every traffic stop. These are children who would sing till the traffic light turned green and would not go away until the jeep started to move away. She would give them change and ask them repeatedly to go back to the sidewalk lest they be sideswiped or figure in some accident.

Her genuine concern for them made me feel guilty as I, with my Manila frame of mind, did not give a single centavo believing that they would probably just squander their singing money in betting games and other bad habits.

You would know that she probably did not earn much but gave what she could. It kinda reminded me of the Poor Widow’s Offering (Luke 21:1-4) and made me feel even more guilty.

You really should try and commute some time. I find inspiration in the people that I ride with. Many times I am reminded of simple, important things like helping others and courtesy. I am constantly humbled by random acts of kindness from strangers. We do have the tendency sometimes to feel entitled, just because we get to ride comfortably in air conditioned cars with tinted windows.

Once in awhile, enjoy being out there. Enjoy the sunshine, dwell in the blaring honks of various transportation, appreciate the sight and smells.

There is much more than merely riding public transportation that meets the eye, it may also be a reminder of simple things that matter, the kind that revives lost spirits and nurtures wounded souls.

Happy Sunday Folks! :)