I took a cab on my way home yesterday. The long queue for a jeepney heading to Monumento is longer than that of my patience.
It had been seven long hours of standing and waiting for Mitch Albom’s booksigning event at Glorietta yesterday and I don’t think my body deserves to stand more than an hour of queue again after such ordeal.
My feet, my back and I think, every part of my body that is capable of feeling pain; they were all demanding for a quick ride going home and finally have a rest.
I was so tired and famished that I have not even bothered to take note of the taxi’s plate number.
So, we were just about to exit the parkway of SM North EDSA when the driver started a conversation. I didn’t care at first because I don’t usually speak with strangers, as in this case, with taxi drivers because of all the bad news I heard involving some of them.
He noticed the newly-installed single bench on the taxi waiting area. Being the only bench in the said place, it can only serve like three persons, make it two if the other one is of amazing health. I replied a nonchalant “yes” to what he said.
Surprisingly, he continued chatting with me. I don’t think he is just bored because he was speaking with utmost enthusiasm. He is just so eager to talk to me, as if we were friends, moreover, as if he were my father.
I then assumed that he is a good man. He speaks slowly, his words were nice, and his story is from the heart (wait, how do you qualify things to be coming from the heart, eh?) I don’t know. I just felt it.
It is not just the heart that keeps us alive but also our feelings, our guts, and our soul’s unexplainable connection with others.
That is my own, by the way. If you are going to quote it, please have my name go with it. Haha!
I was mirroring myself on the taxi’s rear-view with a lavender frame when he told me that he was a private driver prior to becoming what he is now. I did not ask him about it.
His former boss is a spinster. I can see him grin as he told me this. He said she is so rude to him. I smirked, and he didn’t notice it because his eyes were on the road.
She was rich; he is less privilege.
She has a car and a personal driver; he is a driver but he has no car of his own.
She has all money in the world; he has less than what she has.
But they are both human.
With conviction, he told me that his boss has a bad attitude because she is a spinster. He told me this as if he has scientific basis or what.
This old-maid is a manager of a huge Filipino-controlled bank, he said.
I said, “ah, okay”. Yes, what a typical response, right?! I was just lost for words because I was asking myself why the cab’s rear-view mirror frame is colored lavender when the taxi itself is white.
He continued telling me his story. He tole me that he informally resigned because he could not take her attitude anymore. He always gets shouted at, scolded, and looked down to. And it hurts him. It did hurt him, as a driver, as a man, as a person.
“Aanhin ko naman ang malaking sweldo doon kung hindi naman ako masaya sa trabaho ko”.
Now that statement struck me real hard. That was exactly the message I have been longing to hear.
I agreed to what he has told me because it’s really agreeable.
So he kept on sharing stories. I kept on nodding.
He asked me what my work is. I told him that I am a student. I was trying to be careful with my answers. Yeah, I lied.
Instead of giving more information about myself, I asked him how many kids he has. He said he has nine.
The lowly taxi driver, now 49, is molded with life’s various experiences. He worked as a driver all his life for people of different profiles; like lawyers, government officials (during the Marcos regime), the spinster, and at that time, for me. He was my driver.
It is heartbreaking to know that only two of his nine children have jobs. What about the other seven?
He said that one of the two working children is also studying engineering right now. “Wow, ang galing!”, I replied, which is, trust me, coming from my heart.
It is some sort of a brave confession when he said that the eldest HAD a “husband”.
He told me that he does not want that guy for her daughter because he is a drug addict. He stowed him away, leaving her daughter with two illegitimate kids. These grandchildren are also under his wings now. I saw him grin again.
His Nokia phone beeped and read the new message he received. “Pa, wala na pong bigas”, coming from one of his children.
Then there was silence. Maybe he was thinking or what. Anyway, I was still trying to figure out why the rear-view frame is lavender.
I have reached my destination and I paid him more than what is due because first, he took me to the place where I exactly wanted to stop. Second to that, he didn’t do me any harm, he shared me stories, and lastly, he taught me some lessons in life. Now I think I paid less.
I felt a whirlpool of emotions from this taxi driver. I felt his madness towards his former boss, the pity for her daughter and his daughter’s children, the disappointment towards his other unemployed offsprings, the pride he feels for his hardworking son, the joy of having a big family and the contentment that he feels as a taxi driver.
This what-could-have-been-an-ordinary-boring-taxi ride made me realize something in life. We all face battles and we are all trying to win. We always search for what makes us happy, for things that will help us feel complete and worthy of even a square of space in this world.
Now I know why the driver wanted to talk to me. He has stories and he wants to be heard. Everybody wants to be heard in most cases.
How about you my friend? Have you had a meaningful conversation with a friend today? Or with an officemate, pedicab driver, co-passenger, saleslady, or whosoever? I am pretty sure that they have stories to tell too! All they need is an ear that is ready to listen.