Long-ago traffic time with a Discman to keep me company | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I walk to work. Renting a pad so close to the office is one of the best investments I’ve made. Sure, the rent is higher (the Inquirer is in Makati) for such a small space (50 sq m), but the daily horror of commuting to and from work has become a thing of the past.

People spend way too much time in traffic. I should know. I used to live in Quezon City. I used to be up before the roosters were, just to make it in time for work. I used to scramble, hustle and elbow my way through a motley crowd of bleary-eyed commuters at dawn to catch the bus to Makati, drag myself to the nearest window seat, and try not to fall back to sleep during the long ride.

These were pre-smartphones, pre-iPads and certainly pre-Uber/Grab times. My only source of entertainment was gazing out the window, where everything looked bluer and the air seemed fresher, as I watched other cars weave through traffic.

I was wet between the ears and so far away from home, and I often wondered what would happen to me if I suddenly died while on my commute, in this strange city I now call home, or if there was a life after death, or if there was a god.

If my thoughts weren’t dwelling on the macabre, I found myself wondering about the lives of other commuters—where they worked, where they came from, and what made them smile. Too often, people wear a mask of impassivity so early in the morning—that is, if they aren’t already slumped in their seats, snoring and drooling.

Ah, I envied those who slept. It was an indulgence my obsessive-compulsive brain wouldn’t allow me to enjoy.

But every Friday and Saturday, I would reward myself by bringing my Discman (an early music player, in case you didn’t know, where you inserted an actual CD of your favorite artist) to work. The Discman was a graduation gift from my brother, you see, so on weekends I’d have music throughout my commute.

Now I live near where I work. That doesn’t mean I no longer have to commute so much. I still do. But, instead of taking the bus, I take an Uber or Grab, whichever is cheaper at the moment. And, instead of bringing a Discman, I now have Spotify.

And my thoughts? How the hell did the government allow the traffic to get this bad?

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