Seat snatcher

I OFTEN consider myself a seasoned traveller. While some people think of travelling as an ordeal, my body clock has been fortunately used to ‘unwinding’ while onboard all kinds of vehicles, be it a ship, a bus, a jeepney or even a tricycle. I think best when I am onboard a moving vehicle. In fact, these are the best and relaxing moments of my life.

Before being ‘nailed’ to my present job as a reporter, life for me was a series of vehicle rides as work required me to hop from one place to another. I insist on the term ‘nailed’ because since I started this work a year ago, my rides are now limited to jeepneys and over-crowded multicabs to and from the office.

And multicabs are an exception to moving vehicles that relaxe me, because I definitely cannot relax and unwind in a multicab. I wonder if a sane person in the city exists who enjoys multicab rides filled with long-legged passengers. (Your feet either gets stepped on or you step on another’s toes).

Still, I’ve been spared the ‘travelling blues’ encountered by some people, and have not encountered any real problems in any of my travelling stints.

Until one cold morning last month when I took the 3 a.m. trip from Davao to Cotabato City. As I haven’t slept the whole night yet, I chose a window seat fourth row from the front and drifted off to dreamland immediately after the conductor distributed the tickets and collected the fare.

It was still dark when we reached the terminal in Digos City when I felt like urinating. I went down the bus and headed towards the comfort room to relieve myself. A long line of passengers from other buses were waiting for their turn to use the comfort room and it took sometime before my turn came.

Unfortunately, the zipper of my pants got stuck and it took me so long before it was finally unzipped. I had to really hurry up as I heard the bus pulling out of the terminal. I rushed into the bus and headed for my seat, but lo and behold! a middle-aged man was peacefully sitting there, head resting on the window pane and he was even snoring loudly.

I tapped him gently at first but as he didn’t move, I tapped him again, impatiently this time.

“Excuse me sir, but that’s my seat”, I told him.

The man merely stirred and went back to his loud snoring so I tapped his shoulder again, painfully this time. The man opened his eyes, stared at me in confusion and I had to repeat my declaration before he understood.

“Really miss, I’ve never left my seat since I boarded, how come you claim this seat to be yours?”

“But Sir, this is really MY seat! Look, here’s my ticket straight from Davao…” I insisted, “and there’s my bag… I pointed to the overhead compartment and faltered when a glaringly-red bag occupied the place my blue one had been. Before I could sound the alarm that somebody took off with my bag, the man snapped, “then you’re on the wrong bus!” his voice intentionally loud for everyone to hear.

Only then did I realize the truth. I turned beet red and did not turn to look at the laughing passengers as I practically leaped out the door and ran back to the terminal where my bus was just pulling away, horns honking with everybody onboard getting cranky because I kept them waiting.

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