A Bus Ride, a Drunk Catcaller, and a Girl with No Name.

Love for People

Last night I rode a commuter’s bus around 5:30pm. In an ideal situation, where there is no traffic, it will only take me 40min to reach my school from home. But in reality, it took me 1.5 hours. And an hour or so in that, I spent with a drunk cat-caller.

I am used to it. To the Philippine setting, sardines-style commute. Where you and a lot other people are compressed to a certain mode of transportation to the point where when the driver steps on the break, you press yourselves against a bus wall, or hold on to the bar grills, or to another flesh just to keep yourself from throwing out of the bus.
What I am not used to is having a drunk as a seatmate.

Scene 1
As I entered the bus, rushing,  catching balance from going in a moving bus, I instinctively finding myself a spot and somehow secure space until the end of the trip. Fortunately, the old lady sitting just right in front of was about to go down. Because of proximity, it was already given that I will be sitting when grandma goes out of the bus.
However, like out of nowhere, a drunk man swiftly shove his legs to the chair and said, “Hay, salamat. Makakaupo na ako.” (Translation: hay, thank you. I can sit.)
Stun by his eagerness to sit down, I let go of the chance. I was on the same spot. He replaced grandma on her seat. He was the closest person to me that time. I do mind that much really. Equality after all.
The next scenes, I did mind.

Scene 2
He, together with his friend sitting just across the aisle, started making jokes to the lady who asked if she can get out of the bus in the area. His friend, from what I saw, realized that they may be offending someone so he stopped making jokes, while the Drunk still kept on pulling new ones. He kept on saying, “Of course you can get out of the bus.” Repeatedly, as if it was the best joke he has ever made his whole life. Imagine that being said with an annoying voice and annoying face. And that face happened to be just a foot or two away from your face (since he was sitting and I was standing).

Scene 3
The shenanigans continued rapidly. The drunk, still talking and talking, thoughtless, tactless, starting to annoy me. Some of his words were actually directed and referred to me. I felt his words were so dirty and out of place and loud that it physically and internally dirt me, too. I made a deep sigh and made sure he heard it. And so he said, “Inis ka ata si Ate ah.” (Translation: Oh she’s pissed)
I let it pass.
The friend said to him, “Paupuin mo nga si Ate (referring to me).” (Translation: Let the lady sit on your seat)
He said, “Okay.” .. Then while laughing, “Ate upo ka na dito (referring to another lady who was situated at the back of his seat).” (Translation: Lady, you can sit here)
The lady refused. Obviously because, duh? Who would take such offer from a drunk disrespectful man?
His friend actually said these words, “Nakakahiya kang kasama. Ayan, si ateng nasa harapan mo ang paupuin mo.” (Translation:  I am ashamed to be with you now. The lady in front you, she should be the one you’re offering your seat to)
Drunk man’s reply, “Huwag siya.” (Translation: No, not her.)
He was getting into my nerves. He purposely made a joke out of me. It was a an accumulation.
This one, I don’t think I can let it pass.

I don’t give a fuck with what other people think to what I would say or do. They don’t know me. They have my face, but they do not have my name. I am just a random girl who is about to bitch slap and elbow a drunk cat-caller inside a crowded public bus.
However, the “with-breeding” in me is battling with my savage side. Thoughts of “Do not step down to his level”, “do not make a scene here”, “he deserves your bitch slap”, “he needs someone to stand up to him”, “keep your cool”. It was an ocean of confused and conflicting actions. Which one, which one. I was simultaneously controlling my temper and plotting my moves and timing of when to kill him with my words with an elbow on the side if needed. As he continued to be even more tactless, the savage side in me is winning.
I am already there. About to do the chosen move. But a flicker of moment stopped me.
As exaggerated as my imagination could get, I thought of him carrying a gun in his bag. Takes it out. Shoots me point blank. Me, dead in an instant. Extreme thought. But what if, right? Anything is possible. Anything can happen to anyone.
In the next five seconds, a sequence of scenes occurred right in front of my eyes. The exact angle of how I elbowed the drunk cat-caller, of how he pulled out his gun from his rugged backpack, of how I was stunned and tried to scream, of how I managed to squeeze myself between the other passengers who were also panicking at the moment. In that five seconds, I even imagined shielding myself by grabbing someone nearest to me and cover my front (Yeah, I know. The survival instinct in me is strong).
Kind of funny actually. I’m crazy, I know.
It’s just that, I remembered my friends and family.
I imagine my friends crying. My family breaking down. Even my own eyes somehow welled up with tears. A tiny watery feels in the corners of my vision. I pity them. And I pity myself. I don’t want them to bear the pain this early. I am young. I still have a lot of dreams, and I saw them vanished. Absolute darkness.
I don’t wanna die yet.
It wasn’t a real life-and-death situation, it was made up. Again, what if? It did feel real. The impact was clear and scary and ground-breaking.

Scene 4
Soon after my vivid imagination, the drunk cat-caller dozed off. Good for him. He was saved from my wrath by his sleepy head. On one hand, people were going in and out of the bus from time and time his sleeping position undoubtedly made an inconvenience to the passengers.

Scene 5
The guy sitting beside him asked for the conductor for a stop and, again, I was the nearest person to that seat. But I do not want to sit right next the Drunk Cat-caller. I asked another person to sit instead of me. But no one wants to.
And so I sat.

Scene 6
The mzrfvckr was leaning on me, heavily. I woke him up. Patted his back (I should have patted heavily too. Kidding). Told him to sit properly. Scolded him to not lean on me. And informed him that he was causing inconvenience to people because his legs were laying across the aisle of the bus. Talking about inconsiderate, irresponsible Drunk.
And guess what? He did moved away. Leaned very dramatically to his left (I am on his right), and said, “Ito ba, okay na ba ‘to? Malayo na ba ‘to? Baka magreklamo ka na naman eh.” (Translation: How about this, is this far away from you? You might complain again eh.)

Scene 7
Never in my life have I ever felt ungrateful to have acquired a seat after a long-standing ride. It was thee first. The Drunk Catcallers face was so near to me. I am not even sorry to say that I am disgusted. Stressful.
He was awake. Unfortunately, for me. He started talking to me. Asking me where we were already. He’s been asking the same question to the conductor. Like every freaking minute. The conductor told him to just sleep and that he will wake him once they get to their destination.
But that didn’t do the trick.
He was still talking to me. I responded calmly, surprisingly. But as hormonal as I am, I snapped at him and told him to go back to sleep if he doesn’t want to get a bitch slapping from me.
He didn’t back up. Though he hesitated for some time, he still continued talking. Endlesssly. Even said, “Magpapabago at magpupulbo ako kasi nakakahiya sa katabi kong chicks.” (Translation: I go put on some perfume and powder to impress this chick beside me). And he really did. I muttered, “Lord God, help me. Please.” (seriously, I could have slit his throat. Lol kidding).

Scene 8
I wasn’t responding to his pointless arguments and inquiries anymore. I was busy looking out the window and being mindful of the world outside. I remember I brought my iPod with me. I put on my earphones and played some good old songs.
He was trying to get my attention. He said,”Hooooy. May music ba talaga yan o naka earphones ka lang?” (Translation: Hoooooy. Are you really listening to some music or you just put your earphones on?)
I laughed. And sang out loud. Pissing him off. I laughed even harder. It was my subtle revenge and rebellion. And I actually enjoyed it.

Somehow, I am thankful to the incident. A distant situation opening to a new door of thought. Connecting to connectedness and openness to the people who matter to me, or even to strangers no? While I was imagining that I die without warning, I thought to myself: What was the last thing I told my sister? or my Mom? or my close friends? Or the person I secretly and highly admire? What were the words? I feel awful. Because I want my last words to them to be kind, and truthful.
I am also thankful to the power of thoughts itself. It’s really true, you know. The Filtering. You can only be affected by something if you allow it. And something that doesn’t matter, would actually be easier to let go. For the second half of my time in the bus, I was focusing on the idea,“This drunk man doesn’t have the power  to upset me.” It worked.
I went out of the bus feeling victorious and fierce.


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