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Good Housekeeping
Liana Smith Bautista, Contributor
February 22, 2010

Vehicular Villains: The People Who Make a Bad Commute Worse (Part 1)

Work can be stressful enough on its own, but a long commute and nasty knocks on the road can make things much worse. FN lists the fiends on the road you should do your best to avoid--and avoid becoming. By Liana Smith-Bautista
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Unless you live where you work, you’ll find plenty to complain about on the subject of getting to and from work every day. Whether on road or rails, there will always be people who make the daily commute just a little bit worse for everyone around them, and you may find yourself victim or villain during rush hour transportation melodramas. Check out these 9 vehicular villains to avoid (or to avoid becoming):


commuters_part_1_train.jpgB.O. BRAVO

There’s nothing quite as effective—and unpleasant—in waking us up (or make us want to hold our breaths until we expire) as that blast of BO from the person next to us on the train. You’ll know it’s you if people suddenly make a face when you grab for the railing or start breathing through their mouths when you reach up for the handle bar. To spare your fellow commuters from your “kili-kili power” and yourself from awkwardness or embarrassment, invest in a good deodorant.


He’s the reason why the first few cars of every MRT train are reserved for women and people with children or disabilities. It’s normal for the people to sway and bump into each other with the train’s movements, but sometimes you’ll notice the guy behind you is bumping to a rhythm of his own. Others will let themselves brush against your breasts (especially for well-endowed women) or sensitive personal parts as if by accident. They’re sneaky, and you don’t always catch them because, well, accidents happen. But that doesn’t mean you should grin and bear it.

So what can you do? First of all, you can make sure you get on one of the women’s cars. If not, though, try to angle yourself away from the offender. If it isn’t rush hour, it’s possible to just move away, but if the train is packed, you can try to turn so that he gets your side instead of your back or front—your arm would be less enticing to him than your chest or behind; if it’s a false alarm, he won’t notice what you’ve done. You can also tell him to stop outright or ask someone for help—try and see if you can switch places with another man. Others may be hesitant or unwilling to interfere unless you ask for help. If that doesn’t work and you are extremely uncomfortable, you can get off at the closest stop and take the next train.


During regular rush hours, the commute can get violent if someone is hell-bent on making it onto a train even if it’s clear that the cars are full and a huge crowd is already at the doors. In barrels the siko soldier, jabbing and shoving. It’s not just a matter of annoyance at being pushed aside—people can and do get hurt.

If you’re guilty of this, remember to wait your turn next time. You can also find alternative means of transport that aren’t as crowded as the MRT or LRT. If you’re a victim of these overly aggressive commuters, make sure you know when they’re coming (usually if they’re coming through a crowd, there’s usually a lot of noise from the irritated and the injured). Get out of their way, and if you can’t, make sure your arms are up so you have a chance of blocking the blows should they come your way. The X-Block is particularly effective for this.


commuters_part_1_jeep.jpgSLEEPING BEAUTY

After a hard day’s work, it’s easy to fall asleep on the commute home. Well and good if you’re the type who just bows her head and falls asleep. But what if you end up with your head on the shoulder of the commuter beside you? With typical overzealous politeness, Pinoys in this situation are generally hesitant about waking up the sleeper up directly. They may shift positions or move away in the hope of jolting the sleeper awake, which sometimes works. If you find yourself in this situation and above tactic doesn’t work, don’t just sigh and wait for your stop or for Sleeping Beauty to wake up: you may wish to tap him or her on the arm or give him or her a nudge out of slumberville. You may even save the sleeper from missing his or her stop.

If you frequently fall asleep on your commute home, combat the lethargy by listening to upbeat music on your MP3 player. If you don’t have one, try sitting up straight, chewing on gum, or eating candy (it doesn’t even have to be coffee candy). Breath fresheners are especially good at helping you keep yourself awake.


Like the little old lady who lived in a shoe, these Snow Whites may be accompanying more children than they know what to do with, and the kids can get pretty rowdy. Other passengers may not appreciate a horde of kiddos with sticky hands and sweaty faces sitting beside them, or the variety of reactions they might have to a commute—you’ll get Happy, Dopey, Sleepy, and Grumpy all in one group!

If you find yourself running herd on a gaggle of youngsters, try and find assistance. Remember that you have two hands with which to hold the hands of the kids you’re with, and therefore your ratio is safest at a maximum of two children per grownup. If you’re a lone commuter trying to avoid situations with happy housefuls like these, try sitting up front with the driver. When it’s unavoidable, make sure you keep a stash of tissues or wet wipes and/or a bleach pen in your bag—you’ll find these useful in multiple situations anyhow.


Boarding the jeep while carrying your weight in shopping goods housed in a mountain of bags? You’ll find yourself in this predicament during market days, payday sales, and so on. If you’re a hapless sideliner witness to a bag lady’s predicament, consider helping her out—if she’s not so frazzled about all the stuff she’s bringing around, it may be easier for you to sit comfortably. If you’re a bag lady yourself, you may want to try bargaining with the driver to pay for an extra seat so you can accommodate all your shopping finds. To prevent these scenarios, try to schedule shopping on days you can easily take a cab or have a car available for your use. Reduce your bag count by investing in large reusable shopping bags (canvas bags are usually nice and strong, and a number of stylish varieties are available)—they’re convenient for hauling loot and eco-friendly.  


commuters_part_1_bus.jpgTHE PRIMA DONNA

They may be lazy or just ignorant, but for some reason, they like to ask the bus to stop at a random stretch of bus route instead of getting on and off at the stations like they’re supposed to. If you’re guilty of laziness, walk the walk—if you do it habitually, it’ll become part of your daily dose of cardio. If you’re just not sure where the bus stop is, ask neighbors or officemates or friends to find out. Better yet, ask the bus drivers or conductors. Buses are not jeeps, and you shouldn’t expect them to stop for you just anywhere.


Inciting as much (if not more) anger as the prima donna is the driver who stops for her. True, every seat counts, and every fare is additional income, but bus drivers should follow the rules. If the driver does this frequently, you may want to report him to the bus company or the transit authority. By letting this type of behavior slide, we are actually enabling it. Do your part and give the driver a slap on the wrist—if it comes out of his pocket or paycheck, he might be less willing to break the rules next time around.


Say you’ve prepared for a long bus or shuttle ride home—you’re excited to use the built-in video function of your media player, or read a magazine, or play with your Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. You settle down to your self-provided amusements on the ride home, and you get that creepy feeling that someone’s watching you—because your seatmate is reading or watching your stuff over your shoulder. What do you do? If you’re in a generous sort of mood, you can offer to share. If it’s something like a magazine or newspaper, you can offer to let your seatmate read it after you (with newspapers you can offer him or her the sections you’ve finished or aren’t going to read). Otherwise, you can confront your seatmate with an “excuse me” and make a show of moving the item of interest away. If you’re on one of the buses that show DVDs while en route, you can direct his or her attention to that instead.

Taking public transport can be a real trial, but being prepared for the worst will help you get through the ordeal with grace. Being aware not only keeps your stress levels low, it’s also a safer state of mind when moving around. Watch out for our next set of vehicular villains, where we deal with private cars and—gasp—taxi drivers.

(Photo source: sxc.hu—train, jeep, bus)

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  • prettylass8831 Feb 22 2010 @ 09:49am Report Abuse
    I haven't tried commuting. I guess always stay cool even if you're getting pissed off while commuting.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • anggeh Feb 22 2010 @ 09:51am Report Abuse
    Haha! I've encountered all of these.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • psychegreekgoddess Feb 22 2010 @ 11:04am Report Abuse
    Been all here:

    add up: when you ride the PUJs and some passengers get hold of the handles making their elbows right visible infront the your face. you want to say "keep your elbows to yourself! haha
    Last modified A long time ago
  • sweetheart101 Feb 22 2010 @ 01:38pm Report Abuse
    How about the headbangers na feeling magbasag ng bungo ng iba? Just last friday, Nakapwesto ako sa may tatluhang upuan sa Five star bus (from Dau to Manila). The lady on my left was somewhat on the heavy side. She keeps on bumping and budging me. 3/4 na ng lang ng **** ko yung nakaupo. So when I felt that she's about to "put her head on my shoulders," bigla akong umurong paharap. Kaya tuloy-tuloy yung katawan nya sa likod ko. hahah. Bad ko! I just can't help it!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • reeya Feb 22 2010 @ 02:13pm Report Abuse
    lahat ata na encounter ko na and its really annoying.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • foxy_lei Feb 22 2010 @ 05:41pm Report Abuse
    haha, i can relate to siko soldiers.. there a lots of it in MRT.. kahit mahinhin tignan, grabe mang-box out..
    Last modified A long time ago
  • tinnnnn076 Feb 22 2010 @ 10:28pm Report Abuse
    kakainis talaga sa lahat yung may BO eeeeeww talaga!tapos naasar ako pag ang dirty ng nails ng jeepney driver at ng bus conductor. kadiri talaga! germs germs germs!!!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Aizen Feb 23 2010 @ 12:21am Report Abuse
    dapat mahaba pasensya mo pag nagcocomute ka.ingat kayo lalo n sa mga manloloko, sa bus, naloko n ko, akala ko konduktor yun pala nagtitinda ng juice, sabi ko pa nman tatlo po, tapos tinusok n ng straw yung juice, sorry k n lng nde na pwede ibalik eh, hehehe
    Last modified A long time ago
  • cream_puffs Feb 23 2010 @ 07:02am Report Abuse
    haha i can totally relate to this article.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • inluv_at17 Feb 23 2010 @ 08:42am Report Abuse
    guilty of being a sleeping beauty, pero i make sure naman na hindi ako sumasandal sa katabi ko.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • mamaii26 Feb 28 2010 @ 01:32am Report Abuse
    yah correct.. i already experienced all of this.. sakit sa ulo minsan hehe
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Nina Beatrice Lacson Mar 02 2010 @ 01:28pm Report Abuse
    OH MAHN, I could totally relate to the instances!! I could not help but nod and smirk while reading this entry! Major burden but total bloopers that make me laugh whenever I remember them and whenever we, with friends, share about these kinds of experience! ;)
    Last modified A long time ago
  • pinkpie Mar 05 2010 @ 09:26pm Report Abuse
    I once experince that "siko soldier" sobrang nakakaasar, grrr...
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Mary Mar 07 2010 @ 12:53am Report Abuse
    Kainis talaga pag gagawin kang unan ng katabi mo! Grrr!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Karla Mar 09 2010 @ 11:06pm Report Abuse
    B.O. Bravo. Yuck -_-
    Last modified A long time ago
  • Mae Mar 11 2010 @ 12:50pm Report Abuse
    I also encountered passengers who carried uncovered drinking cups and there are moments that i choose not to sit next to them especially when the driver is running fast and I knew there is a tendency for their drinks to spill to the ones next to them. Annoying coz they're not considerate of others. They should have preferred to take their drinks before riding the vehicle.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • happy_mommy Mar 11 2010 @ 03:16pm Report Abuse
    Eew, B.O. bravo, hahaha! One of the reasons I prefer driving. Or at the least, stay at the women's compartment.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • corazon lecaroz Mar 15 2010 @ 02:48am Report Abuse
    kailangna tlaga mag ingat, wala p naman akong car.
    Last modified A long time ago
  • january May 19 2010 @ 10:29am Report Abuse
    i used to ride fx from sampaloc to makati and because of the traffic i often make a quick nap…hehehe

    Last modified A long time ago
  • clermont May 31 2010 @ 03:18pm Report Abuse
    My cousin gave me a tip. She brings "perdible", a big one. If the fellow sitted beside her is "Mr Manyak", she pricks him with perdible. Hahaha!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • LeonaBuchanan Nov 05 2010 @ 04:11am Report Abuse
    I received my first loan when I was very young and it helped my relatives very much. Nevertheless, I need the term loan as well.
    Last modified A long time ago
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Liana Smith Bautista
Liana Smith Bautista was an editor with Female Network from December 2010 until July 2012. She now works part-time as a freelance writer and editor and helps run her family's beach resort the rest of the time... Read more...
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