Taxi Drama

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesdays are usually taxi days for me. My car's not allowed on the roads due to the coding scheme and while theoretically I am supposed to be commuting instead, I end up waking up too late for that. So I take the taxi, where I can continue my sleep at the minimal risk of ending up somewhere else when I wake up (like Alabang).

Anyway, today's one of those days and I plan to check the stock market for a few minutes, and then sleep the rest of the way. But when I rode the taxi and told the driver my destination and preferred route, he answered in a weird voice "wag mo tatanggalin" (don't remove it)

I was like, "Remove what?" I almost chalked up the driver as one of those shabu-addled once who I've encountered more than once before, but suddenly somebody actually replied in a very minute voice "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeh".  I looked at the shotgun seat from the back. There was nobody there. And then it spoke again "Masikip papa!" I leaned forward and lo and behold I saw a 3 year old kid (or so I think) sitting up front. It was also kind of cute, until you realize that an adult's seatbelt protects a 3 year old kid from accidents in the same way a condom protects you from gunshot wounds.

But yeah, not my kid, and I just wanted to sleep. If ever, it's just going to give the taxi driver an incentive to not drive around like the fourth horseman of the apocalypse spreading death, destruction, and traffic everywhere he goes.

The kid kept on complaining about everything. At first it was cute, because her voice was cartoonish, and then it was annoying, because I planned on sleeping. She wanted more food, and the driver, who apparently was her dad, promised her ice cream after dropping me off. She said she was thirsty, so he gave her his water bottle. (I could not see, but how the heck does a three year old drink from a litre plastic bottle anyway?) and then finally she complained that she just wanted to go home.

At this point the dad's voice changed from the usual half-annoyed-half-concerned voice to a stern one. And that's also the point when I started paying attention (while pretending to not care of course). "Walang tao sa bahay," he said, "wala ang mami mo dun. Anong gagawin mo dun kung magisa ka lang?"

So the guy's babysitting, I get it. I suppose it could be done, provided most of his passengers are like me, no more than 3 people and not really giving a shit if there's another person inside besides the driver.

And that was when i was caught completely off guard.

"Anak, dapat lagi na tayong magkasama ngayon," the driver continued with a raspy voice and a sad undertone, "kasi wala na ang mami mo. Iniwan na nya tayo." The kid could only say "iniwan? mami?" And this was while we were cruising down the highway.

I looked at the driver for the first time since the trip started. He looked tired, and somewhat sad. And that was what distraught me. What if this guy is sad to the point of being suicidal? No more sleep for the rest of the trip, that's for sure.

After a while the kid finally fell asleep. The driver would occasionally glance at the kid, still straddled with the oversized seatbelts and he'd give a warm smile, and pardon me if I might embelish the story a bit, that sort of told everybody who saw it "Don't worry now, everything's going to be alright."

It felt like I was inside a drama story waiting to unfold. As though one day that kid is going to grow up, and have a chat with his dad, and bring up the day that her mother left them. And I saw what would've been talked about ahead of her.

Sad and wonderful at the same time.


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