Today, something happened that made me feel really bad. The truth is, I don’t understand what happened, or why it happened, and that is part of the reason why I feel bad.
Over the weekend, I got a notice from the Post Office (it’s called “PhilPost” here in the Philippines) that I had a package waiting for me, and I needed to claim it at the main Post Office in Davao. The PhilPost Office is closed on Saturdays, so, since it’s Monday morning, I decided to go down and pick up my package first thing this morning. I had recently ordered something on eBay, and was looking forward to receiving my purchase, which I was sure was the package waiting for me.
For about a week now, I have been trying something new. I’ve been riding the Jeepney when I needed to go somewhere in town. The Jeepney is sort of the main public transportation system in the Philippines. There are thousands of Jeepneys in a large city like Davao City, where I live. I have ridden the Jeepney a few times over the years that I have lived here (more than a decade), but only a few times. Since I own my own vehicle, riding the Jeepney is just not something I need to do.
For those reading this who are not familiar with the Jeepneys, they are larger version of Army Jeeps from WW2, which were converted into public transportation vehicles. Over the years, an industry started up building new Jeepneys, since there were only a limited number of Army jeeps to be converted. A Jeepney can hold maybe 12 to 20 people, depending on it’s size, and how tightly the passengers are packed in. At the point that I would consider a Jeepney to be full, it would be about 12 passengers. In the Philippines, do you know how many can fit in a Jeepney? Always one more! Ha ha… anyway, let’s just say that they really pack them full.
Since I started riding Jeepneys regularly about a week ago, I don’t ride Jeeps that are already full, or what I consider full. I just wait for a different jeep that is partially empty, it’s just more comfortable to get a seat that way. If a Jeep is full, the people will squeeze together more tightly and give you about 6″ on the seat to sit down. Well, frankly, my butt won’t fit into 6″, which is why I always wait for a partially empty jeep when I want to go somewhere.
So, this morning I was off to the PhilPost Office to get my package. I walked up to the main highway where I could catch a Jeepney, just a 10 minute walk or so, and I waited on the corner, watching for a Jeepney that was going to the area where I needed to go (the sides of the Jeepneys are marked with the route they go). After about 2 or 3 minutes of waiting, an older gentleman, perhaps in his 80′s, strolled up and he was also waiting for a Jeepney. A few jeepneys pulled up that were going on the route that I needed, but they were so full, I decided to just wait. I could see that the older man was also trying to avoid a full jeepney, just as I was.
After about 2 or 3 more minutes, a Multicab pulled up. A Multicab is similar to a Jeepney, but smaller. The Multicab was also going on the route that I wanted to take. The older gentleman also started moving toward the Multicab, and I thought to myself, “Oh, he is going on the same route as I am.” As the older man started to step into the Multicab, he glanced over and saw that I was behind him. He immediately jumped down to the ground. I motioned to him and said “Ikaw ang ikaprimero…” (You will be the first…). He looked at me in a sort of scornful way and said in a rather mean voice “I’m not riding.”
I felt bad, because the way he said it, it seemed to me that he didn’t want to ride if I was going to ride on the same Multicab. I cannot be certain, maybe he just realized that it was not the correct route, but by the tone of his voice, I felt that his decision had something to do with the fact that I was going to ride. He did not want to ride with me. I don’t know why he would feel that way, and as I said, perhaps my interpretation of his feelings was incorrect, but it did feel bad to me. My first reaction was that if he didn’t want to ride with me, I was willing to let him take the Multicab and I would wait for another one, but he walked off quickly and didn’t give me the chance to offer that to him. The Multicab was not crowded either, there was plenty of room for both of us, and a few more people as well.
Anyway, if I did something to offend this fellow, I am just not sure what it could be. Offending people is not something I would want to do, and especially a senior citizen like that. My feeling is that perhaps he was not comfortable riding with a foreigner, but I am not certain.
What would you have done?