May 12, 2012

Musings on the LRT

Let me get straight to the point, as I’ve been chewing on this idea for a while. Why do people pack themselves into LRT trains? And why don’t people line up?

I’ve been riding the LRT since September. It’s the fastest way to get to work. Plus: It’s a great way to stay fit.

I have to jostle my way into space enough to fit my spleen. I have to stand for 15-20 minutes because the entire train is filled with enough people to make a new country. Oh, and yes, I shimmy when no one’s looking. A dancer always needs her practice, and what better way to do it than in a train full of people looking at the ceiling?

But seriously speaking, I wonder, to this day: why do people subject themselves to the torment of having their insides squished to their very molecules? Why do they insist on filling up train cars until people are stuck to the windows like fluffy car decorations suction-cupped to the windshield?

Now I hope you won’t say it’s a fun experience, because it isn’t. Its novelty has gotten old. And please don’t tell me that everyone’s in a hurry to go to work, and that everyone has a right to hurry. I would rather get to work late and still look presentable, than arrive early looking like I got into fight with a manananggal on the way.

I also wonder why people insist on getting into a nasty bottleneck of bodies. I’ve gotten an elbow in the ribs and a bag on the nose – and I think I’ve given someone my hip bone and shoulder. I really don’t want to hurt anyone, but after being pushed forward by a human tsunami, I don’t think I have any control over what my limbs do.

Once, I called someone a b*tch for not moving out of my way. It’s gotten to a point where I have no control over my ability to curse people to kingdom come either.

And another time, I actually pushed someone into the train after she wormed her way ahead of me and several other people – and after her elbow landed in my ribs. I didn’t want to be vicious, but there I was, pushing her, and saying (in Filipino), “I think you’re in a hurry, right?”

Everyone behind me laughed. She wormed her way into the train, out of sight of the rest of the passengers.

I laugh about the incident, but I can’t help thinking: do I have to reach that point? Does anyone have to, before we realize that we have to do something about the LRT “system”?

Why don’t we form lines? We could have one half of the doorway devoted to allowing people to get out first, and then another half of the doorway devoted to people getting in via an orderly line. This way, we don’t have people jostling for space or, worse, getting stuck in train doors. This way, we could easily catch and penalize people for pushing and shoving.

Or perhaps the more appropriate question is: why can’t we form lines? Are we in such a hurry that we all want to get ahead of everybody else? Do we really not care about each other enough to make sure that we all get to our respective destinations in one piece?

Or perhaps another question would be: why aren’t lines enforced? I remember having to line up to get on the MRT years ago. What happened to the rule? Have we just been too lazy to get back in line and put some order into our commuting lives?

Someone once told me that even if we do fall in line today, people will forget and will just fall out of line tomorrow – and even if we do fall in line today, not everyone will want to fall in line, so we might as well not do it.

But why should we sink to the lowest common denominator? Why can’t we change our way of thinking, even in a place as mundane as train platforms? If we keep on thinking that people will have their own rules, then they truly will have their own rules and we won’t get the systematic train ride that we all deserve.

I dream of the day when train rides will be less a task and more a welcome routine. I might move to another place soon, so train rides might not be as common for me. However, I see promise in our train system, and in those who want to impose a real system on commuting. If the government can put together bus rapid transport, trains, and other means of commuting, then we, the people, can put our own system into how these commuting systems are run.

I know that this isn’t my standard critical blog entry, but I just can’t help wondering why things can’t be more orderly and systematic. It doesn’t take a lot to line up – and it doesn’t take a lot to apprehend those who refuse to line up. Maybe we could all just work together and get this system started?

In the meantime, don’t mind my close examination of the platform. It’s just me, planning out the next line strategy.

On that note, I dare everyone to start a line before they get on the LRT. Let’s see if we can start a trend. Line mob, anyone?


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