On Drivers

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rip Van Winkle here had the chance to finally go home again last week to his hometown.

In the bus terminal, he had hopes of finding acquaintances there but to his disappointment, he could only resort to his phone to keep him occupied. He wasn’t even clever enough to bring his pop’s iPod with him. Besides, the place wasn’t even conducive for leisure reading, soul-searching, deep thoughts or philosophical inquiry. His mind was instead filled with scraps of advertising jingles (…kay Manny Villar ka…sipag at tiyaga….) and pop songs with half remembered lyrics (…boom tarat tarat!). Taken as a whole, the wait in the bus terminal was simply a test of being able to keep his sanity intact.

Along the way home, he couldn’t deny having the mixed familiar feelings of excitement and melancholy. He always had these feelings every time he went home. Excitement because of going home of course. Melancholy because of leaving Manila. He learned to love the place somehow. Good place for people to meet.

Anyway, he tried to sleep in the course of the eight-hour travel. However every now and then, he would be awakened by the bus driver chatting briskly with a fellow driver of same bus line. He wasn’t really annoyed though. Instead, he had come to the conclusion that there was something to be fascinated with the way bus drivers meet their fellow drivers of same bus line on the road. For years of bus riding, he observed that there was always the usual halt to share the latest news or jokes. Or the flash of lights if the stop wasn’t possible. There was always the almost imperceptible flicker, a fractional head nod that passed between the drivers.

Though he spoke only of provincial bus drivers. It might be different with Metro Manila bus drivers since a lot of them seem to think like they are driving little cute race cars with about twenty people instead of buses.

So to continue, at home, he reorganized the furniture arrangement with his siblings, visited his grand folks in the cemetery, and watched some DVDs. Came Sunday night, he was hitting the road again back to Manila.

This time around, he was with Manong Joel (his pop's reliable pilot) and they stopped over at the Oasis Country Resort to have his favorite food – chicken mami. As they were eating, he wondered how New York limousine drivers take their lunch. It was a bit bizarre that what he thought even had to be about drivers, or limousine, or lunch considering that they were eating at midnight. And more so New York (Was he in the New York state of mind?)!

His wandering thoughts went like this. Do they take food-to-go from McDo? Or do they just park somewhere else and eat packed lunches in their nook? Would their boss even allow them to eat inside the limousine?

He even had this theory that there are two kinds of parkers – those parking inside a building or those parking on the side of a street or on a parking lot. He presumed that the building parkers must be lucky because they take their lunch in the parking lounges. The less unfortunate are the side-street/parking lot parkers. The parking lot parkers are saved from the threat of towing trucks. But both must have difficulties as to where to take lunch if the worst should be assumed.

Are there even some sort-of jollyjeeps or carinderias in the said city where they could eat? Or is there any chance that they eat with their bosses? What if the boss is Donald Trump? Does Donald Trump eat lunch with his driver? Or does he even take lunch at all?

It appears remarkable that the one describing himself here as Rip Van Winkle can even talk about drivers.

And why does he even ask? Perhaps Rip Van Winkle here wasn’t really asleep that long after all.