The Cabbie in the Rye
Serendipity, I believe, happens not only in romantic gimmicks. It can also promulgate itself in the times we feel unusually dejected, when we think the universe is devising its great plan of havoc upon us. It can come to our sense of oblivion to make sure we wake up and realize something: That we must continue to live life. It exists to make you think and believe that there’s always tomorrow. And it’s way way better than yesterday.
I have never encountered serendipity in a long time. The last time it hit me was when I became second honor in my second quarter period in third grade, after having been hospitalized in less than a month.
And that was it.
For some strange reason, serendipity struck my lonesomeness yesterday night. I was having some Lumine errands with my JMA orgmate Miccah in Kourtyard, Katipunan, and I was contemplating on how miserably my grades fared this second semester. I was really not in the mood to actually do anything, and so at eight in the evening after having fled the place, I waited for a jeepney to ride me home. But I figured that it was too late, so I impulsively hailed a Nissan Sentra cab as a venue for me to sip my inner loneliness.
“Whereto?” the cabbie asked.
“Marikina,” I blurted and without having attended to his affirmation, just slid myself in.
“Is it flooded there right now?” he said. He was a tall man in his 50s, probably the one I could see the likes of Philipp Salvador in.
“Did it rain?” I replied. You know how dense I could get.
After having three minutes of normal silence (yes, there’s abnormal silence aka ‘awkward’), he started a conversation, “You know, Marikina is really a clean place, compared to Quezon City.”
I was mum. The best I did was to play my choked giggle. I was nothing more but lonely.
“You live in a village?”
“Which village? My panganay worked for Charo Santos’s son-in-law, who lives here in Marikina. The village called, El… err, can’t recall.”
“Maybe those gated villages.”
I honestly didn’t know any exclusive, high-class “villages” in the pink city of Marikina, being thus a social elite loser like that.
I just looked at the red backlights of the pool of cars that glowed very much like fireflies in the dark.
“It’s a jammed traffic in here,” he continued, “You know there’s this story about a beautiful chinky-eyed fair-skinned lady- she rode a cab from SM North, told the cabbie to bring her here in another village in Marikina. And sooner did the cabbie realize that he was being followed by two men in motorcycles. He was cornered, and the lady was apparently an accomplice. How smart could these people get, eh?”
“Real smart,” I paid attention. He suddenly became interesting.
“Yeah, the thing was the cabbie beforehand sneaked in his savings in his car’s compartment, and the only bill he could offer to the robbers was Ninoy’s face. They didn’t believe him of course and insufferably rummaged through the vehicle. Alas, they found the poor cabbie’s overall money.”
“Did they rob it still?” Again, how dense could I get?
“Of course. I mean, what smeared souls do these people have? Stealing money from someone poorer than they are?”
“Why don’t they just steal from the rich people, the filthy rich people?” I suggested.
“You’re right!” he exclaimed. I realized he wasn’t the type of cabbie who could only tell stories about the, err, weather.
“That’s why I can’t seem to blame cabbies who asked for a kontrata or those who become picky with passengers.” As he said this, I also began to speculate that he was playing on me. Did he want me to sympathize with the absolute meter-disobedience of his fellows? “But I think it’s still bad to be that way,” he continued.
I then exhaled indiscriminately.
“You go to Ateneo?”
“No, I’m from UP.”
“Ah, of course. Who are you voting for?” He was obviously a man to remember.
“Gordon. And for vice president, still undecided. How about you?”
“Gibo,” he points at this green sticker with Gilbert Teodoro III’s face on it, “But yes, Gordon is a nice choice. And Bayani whom I’ll be soon voting too!”
“I don’t know if I’m voting for that guy though. Please turn left at the intersection,” I gasped in setback.
“Okay. It’s your choice. Anyway, I’m voting for Gibo because he makes perfect sense and he answers profoundly the questions thrown at him.” I then ruminated on how general his rebuttals were in the PDI First Edition ‘debate.’ “He’s like Gordon. In fairness, Gordon meanwhile is sharp a guy. Taiwanese people who invested in SBMA said that if ever he would sell refrigerators and air-conditioners in the North Pole, they would still buy into him. That’s how convincing he is.” (Yes, he used the phrase IN FAIRNESS.)
“You bet. Some of my family members are bidding for Noynoy though. I wanted to tell them the laws he passed, or in his case, the lack thereof. Go straight then turn left.”
“Truly. He was in Congress, then in Senate then what did he deliver? I don’t think he addresses his family’s involvement in the Hacienda Luisita case. I heard he’s also arrogant like his sister Tetay.”
Clearly, Kris Aquino was still referred to as Tetay by some.
“Her son Baby James actually called out ‘Villar, Villar’ in the microphone, in some campaign program. With confusion and humiliation, Tetay could only shove him to his nanny.”
“I heard of that too, what a disloyal nephew,” we both shared a good laugh.
I was astounded. The guy was better of than most people I know; he knew a lot and was more updated than I was. He was like the wall not in Facebook I could also talk to, without looking stupid.
Moments later, we were nearing my aunt’s house, down a broad street beautifully arched by acacias. He was still in the mood to talk, “Your roads are really nice around here.”
“Soap opera producers usually come here to shoot. Amid this, this is a hold-up zone. At two in the afternoon, you could get mugged by just walking on the sidewalk,” I shared the trivia.
“I’m glad you don’t get to be in the middle of any haps.”
“In my four years, never. Umm, I’m graduating anyway.”
“Mass Communication,” I cheerily replied.
“Really? Congratulations! My panganay went to La Salle, and when he applied for jobs, the companies mostly chose who came from La Salle, Ateneo or UP.”
La Salle? I knew it! What was penniless me riding in a La Sallite’s cab?
“I’m not looking for a job yet though, but noted that… Please stop in front of that red car.”
The car harrumphed. I looked at the meter, stashed out 100 pesos to pay my 75 fare. He said he had nothing but twenty-peso bills.
“Just give me twenty,” I said.
“Okay. Thanks a lot,” he responded.
“Alright, thank you very much,” I said then forced an inevitable smie. I went out of his territory, looked at our gate, remembered the ubiquitous concept of serendipity, and suddenly felt a little better.