I’ve heard about this modus operandi where the syndikato attempt to victimize girls in public transport by having one guy spit on their hair and the others confuse them by loudly pointing out that there’s spittle in their hair and clothes, and do you have tissue or hand sanitizer, you should wipe that up, let me help you, and swipe their wallet or phone in the confusion. Knowing about it is totally different from experiencing it yourself.
It happened to me today on the jeep to Alabang. I was attempting to read Will Peterson’s paper on the Pangalay and Philippine politics when this guy seated 2 people away from me started to cough up some phlegm and spit it out the window. Given the direction of the jeep and the wind, there should have been no way that any of that phlegm landed on me, but it did. And then three different guys beside me and in front of me were very concerned about the spit on my jacket and in my hair.
I removed my jacket and wiped some spit from my hair that the person in front of me pointed out – how the spit ended up all the way there on the other side of my head should have been suspicious, but I’m Ms. Benefit of the Doubt – using the last of my wipes, and got so frazzled by all the “helpful concern” coming from all sides, that I lost it and yelled, “Wala na tayong magagawa. Mamaya ko na problemahin. Masikip, hindi pwedeng ayusin ngayon.” That translates to, “We can’t do anything about this anymore. I will worry about this later. It’s crowded, I can’t fix it now.” I wanted to add, “Leave me the fuck alone,” but was still not sure what was happening and thinking everyone was just being helpful, so that would have been too much.
I have been trying to curb my tendency to blow up, and basically my anger. I realize it’s what saved me from getting robbed. Because as soon as I blew up, the guys started to get down one by one and the driver pointed out that they got on another jeep, probably to victimize someone else. The driver didn’t want to say anything because the guy who sat across me was sitting right behind him and might have had a knife. So, it’s a really good thing that I was completely aware of all my stuff and where they were – my valuables were in a purse slinging on a chain from my shoulder and not in my backpack, which I had to open to get my wipes. There were valuable things in my backpack, but what would thieves do with a pair of pointe shoes?
I hate that there are people who feel they need to spit on people and then rob them of their money and things, able-bodied people who could easily get an honest living if they were resourceful enough. So, you guys, please don’t lose yourselves in your phone or gadget when you commute, or fall asleep. Be alert, be aware of everything going on, be careful where you put your stuff. And don’t be worried about being ungrateful to “helpful” strangers.
All that said, maybe it’s time I learned to drive, huh?