Tuesday, August 09, 2011

equal opportunities

on way to my early morning workshift again. hailed a jeepney as usual.  the driver stopped by me and said, "please hurry up, board quickly, i don't want the jeepney behind to overtake us."  i boarded as fast as i can. i understood what he meant. at  this unholy hour, there are so few commuters that a driver needs to be always ahead so he can pick as many passengers as he can.

so like a rabbit on the run, our  jeepney glided over the darkly lit streets. the driver kept on looking at his rear view mirror carefully ascertaining how far ahead he is from the vehicle behind. and like a  patient fruit picker, he plucked each and every commuter who hailed him.

it caught up with us at a stoplight. the vehicle behind us.

"basyo ako (i'm empty)," the elderly driver confessed to our driver. there is this unmistakable dejected tone in his voice. and frustration. looking at his vehicle, which is as decrepit as the man is old, i immediately concluded he will never be able to outrun the jeepney we were riding in. our 18-seater jeepney is already half full. from the way the old driver spoke, i sensed he not only meant that his vehicle is empty, his spirit is even emptier.

our young driver never said anything. he just looked at the old man and smiled a mischievous smile. when the light turned green, again our jackrabbit jeepney scampered ahead. our jeepney's backrider jeered at the old driver, "SEE YOU LATER AT THE NEXT STOPLIGHT, OLD GUY!" i could see the old man just shaking his head.

approaching the next street corner from the stoplight, the backrider tapped the shoulder of our driver in elation. there were about 6 persons waiting for a ride.

"we're in luck," said the backrider to the driver, "there, they are hailing us! this is a good first trip for us!"

i saw the young driver quickly stole a glance at his rear view mirror as he slowed the vehicle and halted beside the waiting passengers. they were about to board the vehicle when our driver spoke, "no, no, please wait for the vehicle behind. i can't pick you up. i am having some engine troubles."  he pointed them to the jeepney approaching behind us. when the other vehicle's headlights are already very near us he revved up his engine again and started.

we saw the 6 people board the old guy's jeep. 

"why'd you not pick them up? we should have been almost fully loaded by now! you know how difficult it is to come by commuters at this hour." the backrider asked his driver friend.

"i don't know," he answered, "i just thought we needed to help him today. it's tough being a driver. besides, he'll never be able to overtake us."

he did this twice more. stopped by waiting passengers but did not pick them up. directed them to wait for the old man.

the old guy caught up with us again at another stoplight.

"whew! i thought this will be a terrible early day for me!" he shouted to our driver. there is this wide grin now on his furrowed face. his spirits are up. our young driver, lit a cigarette and smiled his mischievous smile at him. then he flashed the thumbs up sign at the old guy.  his backrider is silent beside him, looking back and counting the still unoccupied seats.

the red light turned green and our jackrabbit jeepney again scampered ahead.  i thought to myself -- heroism is displayed in different ways. this early morning introduced me to another unsung hero.

if only our captains of industries and leaders of governments can be this selfless.


Christopher Dos Santos said...

Namaste my brother Sito, beautiful post. It is good for us to remember we will occupy all seats eventually. Possibly the young man could see the day when he will fill the seat of the old man.

In Lak' ech, gifts of love...

sito saguid said...

dear brother,

the young man is seeing himself as the old man and he is already sowing the seeds of goodness that will come back to him when he can no longer prompt his jeep to scamper ahead .. that is if he will get old as a jeepney driver, i just hope he will be mapping another better future for himself.