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Hey, Someone’s Already Inside

The pedicab dropped me off at the boundary where there was a queue of tricycles waiting for passengers headed for downtown. I stepped a foot inside the passenger coach and quickly backed off after realizing that someone was already sitting inside. I proceeded to the next tricycle. The driver of the second tricycle asked me where I was headed. When I told him of my destination, he told me to ride on the first tricycle, the one I should be riding on but backed off thinking only one passenger is allowed inside the coach. I reluctantly sat beside another passenger, which I have not done for quite a long time. I was thinking, maybe the driver is trying to earn some extra cash with the awareness that no cop would be standing along the route, giving him confidence of being free from getting called out of a violation. I got off and paid my fifteen pesos in coins.

Later that same afternoon, I had a hard time catching a ride home. After some time and a handful of refusals and after all the other people around me getting their rides before I could, a tricycle finally stopped to load me. Hey, someone’s already inside. I asked the driver if it was okay. He replied affirmatively. Okay, this is awkward. Apparently, two passengers inside tricycles have been allowed again.

When I got home, I asked my sister if tricycles have been allowed to load two passengers on the coach. She answered that it has been so since the first of the month. Where had I been and what I been doing that I had not known of this? I was thinking the drivers were still violating some rule.

I guess it’s okay now to be sitting side by side practically with no distance to speak of. I guess the cases have become few enough for that. But how much is the fare again? Why does an individual passenger still pay fifteen pesos? I thought that fare was hiked up to make up for the limit for loading passengers. Now, that the three-wheeled rides have been permitted to take on two inside, why do we still pay the same amount of fare? Fifteen peso tricycle ride? I guess that makes up for the passengers not allowed on the front seat inside, and one more behind the driver. Maybe we should give it to the drivers who have been financially hurting for more than a year now.

On one hand, are we ready for this? Is the herd immune enough to be sitting too closely beside each other for around 30 minutes? I guess so, if the authorities say so. Well, there hasn’t been a surge, or at least, not yet. I suppose that would support the wisdom of such permission.

This is a landmark development. This is the ultimate cancellation of social distance. At least, inside a jeepney, number of passengers could vary from time to time, giving opportunity for commuters to adjust the distance among themselves. But inside a tricycle with two passengers, social distance is definitely desecrated as two people get to be in very close contact to each other in a very confined space despite the open point of entry/exit. If different sets of two random people could share personal space in different combinations in numerous incidents throughout the day and night, then what’s the sense of restraining social and physical distance? At least, in a workplace with fellow employees and usual clients, one would know or somewhat know everyone else, making anyone easier to trace. The case is more so with a group of friends in a recreational outing, something that people have continued to do despite the restrictions. Children might as well be allowed inside malls. Definitely, there would be greater distance among shoppers than that between tricycle passengers. Then why are we having trouble with face to face classes? If random people could sit together in close spaces for more than 15 minutes, switching places multiple times through hours, then it would be safer for a particular set of people: teacher/s and learners to be together in a larger space, with relatively greater distance among each other through a definite number of hours.

I guess had any of those drivers not allowed me to hop in and sit with the first passenger, I would have taken a longer time waiting for a ride. I’m happy the guys holding the front fork now have more to take home to their families.

“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” -Matthew 5:37


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