Last Wednesday, I woke up later than expected. I had only 30 minutes left to bathe, dress, and grab a bite. Not wanting to hurry, I decided to just take a taxi to work. This was out of pure laziness and not wanting the inconvenience of running to work. There are just some days where the baneful commute to Rockwell (an ultimately, uncommutable area) isn’t worth the everyday trouble. But breaking from my usual routine proved to be dangerous just for that day.
(next few paragraphs come from my tumblr, wondernot.tumblr.com)
I’m sure some of you have read about this taxi’s modus operandi. To sum the link up, basically the taxi driver asks for an extra charge, then sprays something onto the aircon. A funky smell comes up, leaving you dizzy and sick. I grabbed a cab (TYU 233) from the driveway of our condo building. Usually it takes some time since most cabs are occupied or a guard calls it for me. This one, however, stopped. I mentioned that I would be going to Rockwell, Palma St., and he agreed. But he did ask for Php20 extra. I agreed since I was in a hurry. He also said to take the Pasig line route (going through Kalayaan), which I had done before, so I agreed also as this is much faster than going through Kamagong then Makati ave.
Things started getting suspicious when we passed through Zobel Roxas. He suddenly asked if he could stop by and check “kung tapos na yung pintura.” It sounded vague, but it was clear in his voice I had no choice in the matter. He turned left to a smaller street, then stopped in front of a lady selling street food. He inquired about the guy he was supposed to pick that paint job from, but the lady said he wasn’t available. Upon knowing this, he left his seat then opened the trunk. I didn’t see if he had actually left something to the lady. He went back in then drove on.
He drove further, turning back to a main road. My suspicions grew further when he brought out a bottle and sprayed a liquid onto the aircon. Then he called someone with his cellphone, going on and on about the paint job. I could hear the person on the other end; it seemed as if he/she wasn’t in sync with what the driver was saying. My kutob ringed an alarm, so I texted my boyfriend the taxi’s plate number. I recalled the blog I had read a week ago, and started breathing through my mouth. This was difficult at first, but I managed it until he hit Kalayaan avenue. I gave my nose a break and whiffed some of the sprayed smell—it was awful, and coincidentally, smelled like paint, but with a rotten tinge. Considering how strong and awful it was, I wanted to get to work alive (and with my possessions bought/earned from hard work), so I looked for a jeep that was headed to JP Rizal. A few started driving ahead, as the driver continued talking on the phone and strangely, slowing down his speed since Zobel Roxas. Most cab drivers are in a hurry to avoid traffic! As soon as a jeep drove beside us, I told him dito na lang ako bababa, and he agreed, still talking on the phone. I handed him 90 (the fare was 85 on the screen) and he didn’t bother asking for the extra 20. As soon as I got out, I boarded a jeep and the scent of polluted air never felt fresher.
After work, I reported the incident to the police at a station near our condo. As the policeman was taking notes of my report, another commented that “uso pala ung ganun noh? (it’s a trend nowadays?)” The modus operandi was familiar, but apparently it was a new scheme that was returning. They said that it was good I was aware, otherwise, I would have woken up with all my things gone. Who would have thought breaking out of my habit could have led to a dangerous end?
That incident certainly traumatized me. I won’t be taking cabs for a while, not unless I’m with a guy or a large group. Buses and sleeping over someone’s house are much safer options should late nights occur. It saddens me though, that until now, women still cannot go out alone without worrying about being taken advantage of. I realize that being on guard would prevent so, and a man probably would suffer the same fate if it came to kidnapping….but we will always worry about more (rape, getting beat, etc.). It was morning by the way, when the incident ALMOST happened, so time isn’t a factor. How frustrating is it to always be at the dangerous end of a man not thinking with the right head. Same goes with poverty…had I lived with a better economy and a government that provides the basics, these people wouldn’t resort to such terrible acts. Then again, one can contest that it takes more than desperate poverty for such an elaborate act.
In any case, one cannot change another’s motives or economic status. We can only protect ourselves and ensure that life goes on as smoothly as it can.