Sunday, October 17, 2004


The bus broke down just as we were about to get off at the Megamall stop. The engine sputtered out, the air conditioning died and the hydraulics sealed the door in an instant rigor mortis while the horrible stereo tuned in to a cheesy FM station remained annoyingly alive.

Nothing surprising about this really. Most buses in Metro Manila appear to be units that had been phased out from Japan two (perhaps even three?) decades ago, and these rusty dinosaurs (or should I say Godzillas?) break down often enough.

I just found it quite ironic how the bus trapped us literally at a spitting distance from our destination.

The other passengers who were also supposed to get off at the same stop crowded the front of the bus aisle. They stood and watched the conductor and driver try (and fail) to pry the door open.

Perhaps some of them also began to wonder if we should start eating each other to stay alive.

I walked to the end of the bus and tried the emergency exit. To my relief, the red latch turned. But then, I saw that the door had been welded shut by what seems to be melted tire rubber. I guess bus companies sealed emergency exits to keep cheap passengers from escaping when time came to pay for the fare.

For a moment, I stood before the sealed door, listened to the muffled hum of traffic underneath some sad old pop song, and looked at the expanse of Megamall just beyond the filthy glass where EMERGENCY EXIT was painted on in both English and Japanese.

Then, I was finally able to do something I’ve (sort of) always wanted to do: open a bus window and jump the fuck out.

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