An Unexpected Journey: A Commuting Story

by Esther Elizabeth Suson

The nicest thing about being grown-up is knowing that you know everything that is to be known.

The scariest thing about being grown-up is finding out that you don’t.

On Monday, my plan was nice and simple.

  1. [6:30-8] Take one (1) jeep to Pasig City Hall. Fare: 12 pesos.
  2. [8:30-9:15] Pay October taxes and deposit savings.
  3. [9:15-9:55] Take one (1) fx to Medical Plaza. Fare: 25 pesos.
  4. [9:55-10:00] Walk to Starbucks Hanston’s.
  5. [10:00-6:00] Work, with R.
  6. [6:00-6:30] Prepare for aikido.
  7. [6:30-9:00] Aikido.
  8. [9:00-9:30] Put away.
  9. [9:30-10:30] Dinner.
  10. [10:30-11:00] Go home. Fare: 25 pesos.

(I do not like to think that I am that kind of person, but then I make lists and find out that I am). I was on the jeep by 6:30, at Pasig City Hall by 7:30, and was in the bank by 8:30. I even managed to finish reading Frankenstein on the side.

In the bank, however, the time inched past the half-hour to 9:00 and then another half-hour to 9:30 before my number was called. I was speed-walking for the exit by 9:47.

My schedule was already derailed, but it was okay, I could make up the time. That is, until I stepped into the street, my umbrella up against the rain, and discovered that they had moved the fx terminal and I had no idea how to get there.

Oh well, no problem, I thought. I’ll just grab a jeep to Tramo and take the fx from there. So I grabbed a jeep, said Tramo and derailed my plan even more by paying the unexpected expense of 8 pesos.

Now, to put things into perspective, all the streets leading to the Pasig City Hall look more or less the same to me. I just know where I am by a few landmarks and a weird memory that knows which direction the jeep will turn. To make things worse, it was raining on that day. The entire world was a dingy brown-grey color and the yellowing plastic window-covers worsened the effect.

Which is why I have no idea just where we left the beaten path. I was lost in my own thoughts, expecting to be nicely dropped at Tramo, when my subconscious niggled at me and told me that we’d been traveling for much longer than usual. I don’t think we’re being kidnapped, I consoled it. The jeep might just be avoiding traffic.

A million back-alleys and a dozen should-be-outlawed square humps later, the jeep driver finally asked me where I were going. Tramo, I said. So our jeep driver  told me to cross the street and grab a jeep going to Tramo, since he had already passed the way to it.

And so I was dropped off in the middle of a bridge, in the pouring rain–the perfect romantic cliché. And I. Was. Lost. I actually yelled Wait after the jeep before it left, and stood stupidly bouncing on the sidewalk for a few seconds.

Lost lost lost lost lost lost lost lost lost I am not taking a taxi I don’t want to be broke I want Mom can I call her can she leave work and get me where am I lost lost lost lost lost lost lost.

Then I reminded myself,  Don’t show it on your face, and pasted Blank Competence on. I found a pedestrian lane, crossed the street, found a waiting shed, and tried hard to look local.

That became increasingly difficult as none of the jeeps that passed had “Tramo” written on them. Finally I flagged one down, asked if they went to Tramo, and got in at the affirmative. There, another 8 pesos gone.

The jeep, true to my day’s delightful form, did not pass Tramo at any point, and so I hopped off when it was about to make the U-turn to Pasig Palengke. No thank you, not again. 

But I was on the right road, so I found a footbridge to wait under until I could snag a Megamall fx (to be sure, I wandered midway between two footbridges and caught it where it shouldn’t have been, but I caught it).

I reached R at 11:30, a whole hour-and-a-half later than I’d planned to. Then I went ahead and cried out the stress.

Whenever I try anything new, I text Mom, “I’m going on an adventure!” – a la Bilbo Baggins. Ironically enough, it’s hard to be that flippant when the adventure comes in the form of an unexpected journey. Which is why, every single day of my life, I want that to be my wake-up call.

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