Sunday, March 21, 2010

Running, running, running

When I started my first "9.19 hours" job and I sought the fastest way to get to CBD, I had this dilemma. As much as I want to avoid the sweaty flock of people riding the MRT, I just can't. So, I mentally made a quick note of the following:

Pros: Shorter travel time, less chance of inhaling EDSA bus fumes, cheaper by a few pesos
Cons: Platforms filled with adrenaline-driven urbanites, sleek snatchers, sweaty arms and foreheads, getting squeezed and flattened like Bacolod's piyaya and any similar circumstances

Your guess is as good as mine. I forego riding the metro's only answer to speedy EDSA commute in the morning mainly because of the above cons.

I don't understand people who run during rush hour to make it to the train (picture it bursting at its seams, er, walls) so crowded that there's no way in hell they will fit inside. Or even if they can fit inside, at the very least it will be an incredibly unpleasant experience. There is nothing at all pleasant about being crammed in so close with your fellow urbanites that you have to stand perfectly still, lest you risk having someone's hair brush your hand or their leg brush your leg or, so much worse, their breath aimed directly at your face. 

And trust me, at 8:15 in the morning, especially Mondays, it ain't good. Period.

And yet every morning (for 11 and a half months last year), I see people run to the train that is very clearly packed to the brim. And these people are not walking swiftly. They are running, running, running. I always wonder why people do this. In their brains, are they thinking, "If I don't get on this exact train at this exact moment, I will be late for work!"? If so, then that's flawed thinking, because during rush hour the next train will arrive - guaranteed, at least in Cubao station, in 15-25 minutes. Worse, it sometimes takes 30 minutes. Even worse, the trains won't stop at the station anymore.

Or perhaps they're running without thinking about why they're running. I think this latter option is a lot more likely, for the following reasons.

MM is an administrative region (Thanks, Wiki!) filled with people trying to accomplish as much as possible as fast as possible, usually at the expense of all logic and well-being and pretty much everything else. They work as much as possible, to make as much money as possible, to rent as nice an apartment as possible (note: I would say as "big" an apartment as possible, but let's not kid ourselves) in as nice a neighborhood as possible, just so they can spend as little time as possible in said apartment. And they spend a lot of time figuring out how to maximize the use of their, um, time. They ask themselves, "What would be more worthy of my time tonight, getting drinks with a friend I haven't seen in a long time, watching a movie with some fling/budding romance/boytoy/boylet (whatevs), pigging out with some foodie buddies or sleeping till kingdom come?" It might sound like a long and complicated thought process, but over time, as one gets used to life in MM, all this stuff becomes first nature and takes place in a split second; one synapse fires against another, and - poof - decision made!

This is how MM-ans - myself definitely included at times- live out their lives. So why would they act any differently during their morning commute? People run for packed trains not because they've thought it through, but because it's now their default mode of existence; they're so used to doing something 100% of the time that it gives them anxiety to miss the train when they know that maybe, if they try hard enough, they can make it. They lurch forward at obnoxious speeds because, their brains instantly tell them, there's simply nothing else for them to do.

I, however, do not run when I see a packed train surrounded by a crowd of people at the car doors, because I have decided that this - rushing around half mindless and half anxious - is NOT how I want to live my life. I walk at a normal speed, because in my brain I know I prefer being 15-25 minutes late (or even an hour) to squeezing into a train car so tightly that the only thing keeping me standing is the proximity of other standing bodies. I also know that, in the grand scheme of my life, being a minute and a half late to work does not matter. Some people might say this makes me wise, while others - likely including a lot of MM co-inhabitants - would say it makes me (at worst) foolish and (at best) lazy.

But quite frankly if anything is so serious that I can't be a maximum of two minutes late, then that is probably a thing I don't want to be involved in. Because it probably takes place inside a court room or a hospital or a funeral home. LOL!

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