Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jeepney kid

The jeepney conductor on my ride home from work today was a young kid. Maybe he was 10.

Is conductor the right word? I'm talking about the guy that hangs off the back end of the jeepney and performs various redundant tasks that are just a small step up from useless. Sometimes he sits inside the jeepney instead, and you can usually tell him apart from the passengers because his clothes are ragged and his fingernails are caked with dirt.

He collects the jeepney fare and gives back change, a task often done by the driver himself.

He yells the jeepney route at pedestrians on the roadside, duplicating the function of the paint on the jeepney's front and side.

He also tells passengers to compress themselves when the jeepney gets filled to capacity, duplicating the role normally performed by common sense.

Back in Negros they don't even have these guys hanging off the back of the jeepneys, if I recall correctly. They're not necessary. And Dumaguete's people are far too gentle to employ people to shout at bystanders. In any case, they're all over the place in Cebu.

Anyway. I don't really mind these jeepney guys much... The job is a dead end, and the role they fulfill hardly registers a blip on the radar, but a blip is better than a bum on the sidewalk. But the kid hanging off the back of the jeep was probably around 10 years old, far too young an age for a kid to be working in any capacity. It's kind of interesting to watch, like a talking parrot or a dog standing on it's hind legs. But shouldn't he be in school or something? Is he going to have a future? Or is this his future?

It does put a dent into the belief in better days ahead.