The Burden Of Being A Chance Passenger

I wanted so bad to stretch my legs, but the girl who was sitting in front of me prevented that from happening. My back, my arse, and my joints are aching. I shifted on the floor and extended my legs to the right under the seats, careful not to kick anyone in the process. The passengers who were lucky to have had seats didn’t complain. They were probably thinking that sacrificing a little bit of their leg room was nothing compared with what my friends and I were going through. You see, we were on our way back to Manila from Quirino, on a Greenstar bus and we were chance passengers. Chance passengers are those who didn’t buy tickets ahead of time, chance passengers are those who wait to be seated, chance passengers are those who will most definitely stand or sit on the aisle of a bus, and chance passenger is what we were for at least 8 hours.

Going to Quirino, we were able to reserve seats through What I should have done is to also book our tickets on our way back; a mistake that resulted in over 8 hours of agony. We had no choice, either we go as chance passengers or we wouldn’t be able to go home.

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Hard as it may be, the experience was not entirely ugly, in a sense that we were able to make light of our situation by making fun of ourselves. The bus played old comedy movies of Babalu. They were generally corny, at times funny, all in all cringe-worthy. There’s one, which title I’d forgotten that starred Sheryl Cruz, then wham bam I’m young again. I was fan of Romnick and Sheryl love team during their That’s Entertainment days. I even hated Beth Tamayo in a true fantard fashion when she and Romnick started dating. We sat through the movies as we had no choice in the matter

Silver was laughing at how corny the scenes are and I noticed that the other passengers were laughing along not because the movie was funny, but because they were listening to our side comments.

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Sometimes, I managed to catch some zzzs with the help of my big backpack. Generally speaking, the experience was very uncomfortable. When passengers had to alight from the bus, they had to pass through us. People hopped on us, we had to squeeze ourselves to the side to make way for them, and when we go back inside the bus, we had to wait for the other passengers to hop on first, especially those whose seats are in the back of the bus.

When we drove by a zigzag road, things got ugly for me. I felt lightheaded and queasy that at one point, I had to get off the bus to puke. When I returned to the bus the conductor started calling me as, “yung sumuka,” (the one who puked). I honestly wanted to punch him for making fun of my situation, but of course, I chose to maintain my composure.

One of the passengers, an old man who was sitting on an aisle seat next to where I was sitting pulled out his bag from the overhead compartment. He then started fishing something off his bag; it turns out he was trying to get Bonanime, a medicine that fights motion sickness to give to me, but I beat him to it. By the time he got the medicine, I was already chewing one. He also offered his seat, but I didn’t want to impose knowing that there’s still 5 hours ahead of us, so I politely declined. Nevertheless, I felt grateful to the man for caring.

The meds wouldn’t take effect until an hour so I had to endure a little bit more. I grabbed a bag of chips to eat and distract myself; when that didn’t work I tried my best to sleep it off. Somewhere in Nueva Vizcaya, some people started getting off the bus that we were finally able to have our own seats. After 8 hours of suffering on the floor, we call it a blessing. It’s okay to experience some things once, this is one of them. But never will I want to be a chance passenger again.        

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  1. Just read this now, Marjorie! One little advice regarding motion sickness– Make sure to have some sliced ginger — yes, good old ‘luya’ to chew on when you get on a trip like that. I guarantee that you won’t have any episode of what happened to you there. This is what my son did, as he had motion sickness too, when we did our non-stop bus trip from Baguio to Cubao in 2018. We bought the ginger at SM Baguio and then before our trip back home, we sliced the ginger into bite-sized pieces. And it really worked.

  2. hi
    in india , owing to the large population and the strain on the public transport system , this situation occurs often especially in the trains and shared jeeps ; i can totally relate to this experience which i used to go thru when i was in my teens because of the location of my house in the mountains

  3. Oh! I can very well understand your pain. Even I had suffered similar situation years back when had to stand from Jaipur to Delhi. People were pushing throughout the journey and neither I could sleep nor could do anything else.

  4. Iba ka Marge! Hindi ko kaya tumayo sa bus for such a long drive. I used to do that but only for Manila-Cavite that is about 3-4 hours with heavy traffic. Ang cool na nakapag-enjoy kahit papano before bonamine. Great story though. Haha. Our travel mistakes turned lessons also turn out to be great stories.

  5. What an interesting and unique experience. So, it’s not really bad to be a chance passenger once in a blue moon.. 🙂 I see that your co passenger was really very helpful.. if one gets such company the journey is bound to be interesting

  6. As it is travel by bus for a long period is physically taxing. I can understand your plight, not even having the comfort and consolation of a seat and being swayed around by the bus. Had some similar experiences in the past and in such situations, you are only waiting for the journey to come to an end and vowing to yourself that this is the last time that you are going to go through such an experience.

  7. Marjorie,
    I guess some travel experiences are not as per the expectations. Though it means we are not ready for the experience but the very fact that the experience is not a part of the routine and is sort of new for the mind, it remains etched in the memory! I feel sorry for what you had to go through and the driver was damn rude but I guess you remember the entire trip scene by scene and maybe this is one trip you would remember longer than the others.

  8. I experienced it a lot of times. Even standing for a couple of hours. I will admit that it was not comfortable and I don’t want to do it again, but sometimes, chances are never aligned with my wants. So in case I will be a chance passenger again. I’ll just enjoy and bare with it the next time. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience

  9. I experienced it a lot of times too. The worst one is I was forced to stand for 8 hours. I couldn’t sit on the floor since the people are also standing. Good thing in some part i managed to sleep while standing.

  10. I so empathize with you. Fortunately, I don’t get the urge to piss when and if I am a chance passenger. I am planning to take a bus journey to one of the interior parts of India and I do hope that I end up being a chance passenger. By the way, who took your photograph in the bus?

  11. I have experienced this a lot of times. It’s a pain in the ass (literally!). Worse it when you have to stand for like 5-7 hours. But it was still a fun experience for me especially when I got the chance to talk to the driver the entire time hehe

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