I was lucky that afternoon. I left the office at exactly 1730 hours, arrived at the queuing line with a little more than 10 people in front of me, and in 10 minutes, we boarded the UV Express with the white plate. For those who don’t have an idea, a yellow plate is the plate given to a vehicle that has fulfilled all the necessary requirements in order for it to be used for public transportation while the white plate is reserved for PRIVATE USE only. The disadvantage of the white plates over the yellow plates is that it’s illegal, period. It’s good if you know personally and trust the one behind the wheel, because otherwise, the driver and passengers of the UV express you’re about to board may be a gang of organized criminals. The advantages however are:
- They don’t follow a strict single route. They go about Boniface Global City to escape the hellish Kalayaan Avenue during crunch hours. For the yellow plates of the Ayala-Pasig line, you have to go through Dante’s 10 Circles of hell compared to going through 6 only, not a bad bargain!
- With a much shorter route, travel time is greatly reduced, and I get to go home earlier, play with my kid, put him to bed early, and have quality time with my wife.
The driver by the way is a lady! I don’t get to see a lot of lady drivers conquering the roads of the metro with a passenger vehicle. And she’s one hell of a cowgirl with her white horse – a Nissan Urvan. I got interested in her way back then because she comes to me as “cool”. And when I’m interested, my senses are at code red. And so I learned from her conversation with the passenger beside her a few weeks back, that her husband is driving a silver Toyota Hiace. They fondly call him Jacko, which is a painted marking in the side of his vehicle (told you I can be a spy.)
So in this particular night, i got to see the Romeo and Juliet of the colorum world. As was the norm of the organized transport, each unit carries his own radio, so that they can alert their fellow drivers which particular road is clogged, which is smooth-flowing, where the traffic constables are situated, and everything they can probably think of telling their fellows.
So it is with this setting that Jennifer and Jacko gets in touch: radio here, radio there, and radio everywhere (trivia: 5-9 is a call sign meaning passengers). Unlike Jennifer, Jacko is a ballistic driver – like an intoxicated driver behind the steering wheel who forgot that he’s driving a passenger vehicle instead of an F1 racing machine. I often utter a silent prayer along the way but i make it sure that i am screaming inside my head when he drives.
From Ayala to Global City, the ride is rather boring and relaxed that i can read eBooks on my phone without feeling like throwing up. Somewhere near the Philplans Corporate Center building, Jacko went ahead of Jennifer, snaking like crazy as usual.
“You go ahead” Jennifer radioed Jacko and she tailed him.
As we approached the intersection of 11th Street and Kalayaan Avenue, the traffic from the 11th avenue merging to Kalayaan is frozen while the traffic enforcer (red X marks the spot) signals the flow in Kalayaan to go ahead. Jacko followed by Jennifer, stepped on their accelerators and sped on the left lane of 11th street (thankfully there’s no incoming traffic!) and turned a yanking right to Kalayaan, passing the enforcer like he’s some kind of shit!
As Jennifer turned the steering wheel into a violent right, i heard myself grunt while the old lady beside Jennifer laughed. Obviously, we’re the only ones who are being entertained by the “high speed chase” action of the moment.
“They cant chase us now.” Jennifer told the woman beside her. According to Jennifer, Global City authorities chase colorums but once they’re outside the city limits, they cease to do so.
The exhilaration dissipated fast while we approached C5. C5 is usually jam-packed during rush hours because of the heavy volume of vehicles coming from Kalayaan merging to those heading south. The vehicles taking the elevated U-turn are inching slowly (blue arrow) and the inner lane is at a moderate to light pace.
“You go ahead. Make me a way” Jennifer told Jacko in her radio. As we approached the elevated U-turn (we’re going to take the U-turn slot for Bagong Ilog) Jacko stepped on the gas. Jennifer followed him close.
“Hurry up! Take my left.” Jacko radioed as he stopped at the approach of the U-turn slot as Jennifer climbed first followed by Jacko completely ignoring the blaring horns of the overtaken vehicles. This type of maneuver happened again twice before turning right just before the Bagong Ilog flyover – and not without the adrenaline rush! Thankfully we’re all safe and in one piece.
“Just like the movies.” said the woman beside Jennifer expressing approval to her and her husband’s teamwork. Jennifer dished the compliment to her husband while laughing. Then to the woman she said “At least you’re home early.”
“I totally agree” I told myself.
I loved it too. The feeling was so intense – like having sex. I was not controlling the steering wheel but I felt the rush firsthand – maybe the same way extreme-game players feel when they do their stunts.
I admired Jacko and Jennifer with their teamwork that I can’t help but think of Bonnie and Clyde; not that they’re outlaws (yeah, they drive colorums, we benefit from it but, yeah but… whatever…) Perhaps it was their chemistry. They blend so well and they’re so into it and they do it very well together, as if they are making love.