For those who are not Filipinos, never been to the Philippines or have never seen travel shows featuring this living art of a country, a jeepney is our version of the famous, roughneck American Jeep. It can traverse any terrain and is durable. In contrast to the jeep that most are familiar with jeepneys are public utility vehicles meaning they function like buses or subways or toktoks in other countries. They’re one of the most popular means of public transportation and also one of the cheapest.
There’s a lot to learn from a jeepney ride. I decided to devote a few entries every now and then to tell you about them.
This first entry is on trust.
Like most developing states, blue collar workers- jeepney drivers included- have to work extra hard to make ends meet. Most of them spend over 12 hours laboring intensively to earn minimum wage salaries often devoured by inflated prices of food and other staple commodities. It’s no sob story, just the truth.
You would think that a jeepney driver would guard his earnings closely and ferociously considering his and his family’s sustenance for another day depended on it but he still exhibits an admirable degree of trust. Seldom will you see him accompanied by a conductor to collect fare from passengers. It will rest upon your conscience whether you pay or not. It’s fairly easy to get away with not paying but I’ve heard of very few successful attempts. It’s just the culture we grew up in. We pay whether the driver is aware that we did or not.
The driver allows us to make a decision for ourselves and trusts enough to make the right one.
We, in turn, are raised to prove him right.
I’ve heard many stories of honest drivers returning bags full of cash and valuables to their owners, even making the effort of visiting radio stations to find who lost them. I’d like to think the trust they have for people, those who would pay their fare even when no one’s checking, strengthened their moral high ground to remain honest even in the face of material temptation.
My moral for this one: trust is a value worth keeping even in the face testing circumstances like collecting money or people doing what’s expected of them.