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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