Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pon di minibus

So my obsession with the public transportation system continues. I am fascinated by it. Yes, sometimes I get irritated when I am trying to get somewhere on time; but for the most part I love route taxis. Some really interesting interactions happen in route taxi's. Let me explain.

So last week I was leaving UWI when this guy recruited me to get in his robot. Usually for route minibuses there is a driver and a loader. Basically all the taxi's & minibuses congregate in these condensed areas and the loaders or individual car drivers hop out and try to grab as many people as they can fit as fast as they can. The quicker they run the routes with the most amount of people the more money they make. Logical, sure. The speeds they drive, the dodging in and out of traffic, the sliding their car in neutral to save gas, and flying through parking lots and side streets to avoid traffic, which by the way never works. Anyways...when the loaders are trying to recruit you it can get a little intense. They are yelling, Pa-Pine! Lig-A-ne! Af' Way Tre! Cross-Ro! Yeah all those are areas, I gave you the phonetics, you figure it out... I had too.

So yeah anyways I was leaving UWI and this loader shouts "Af Way Tre" so I look up to see where it's coming from and the guy already sensed me acknowledging his route so he darts over to me and leads me to his minibus. I say no, I don't want a minibus, particularly a minibus where I am the first person in. That means; a) you wait for a full bus, this could be 39 more people or b) every 3 seconds your driver is pulling over on the road to grab more people. So he said that he promised we would only wait five minutes and then leave. I reluctantly agreed. So more people get on the bus we get a good 16 in the next 5 minutes and we are off. No more than 3 seconds after leaving UWI the driver throws on the craziest gospel, reggae country music I have ever heard. Im like right behind the driver squished against the wall so any laughter to myself about the Jesus-loving music would of been easily spotted. They say its the Jesus-loving ones you should fear. But mind you the driver and the loader are like singing this music really loud and no one in this van seems to find it funny at all. I mean obviously there is something to be said for getting acclimated, but still I can't help but observe everything. By the time I'm the quarter of the way home, I am basically sitting with a row of wooden bird statues made by the nomadic rasta sitting next to me. So yeah about half way into the trip I said driver, good here! And jumped out as fast as I could with just enough time to watch the Jesus-loving minibus fly away an ungodly speed.

This stories a little different. So a few days after I got back to Jamaica I caught a ride to school pretty early and there was one more seat open. We pulled over to pick up this woman, the minute she got in the car her phone rang. It was her mother calling to tell her that her baby just died...she was 2 years old. Within 5 seconds we, the three other passengers, jumped out of the car and the driver was taking her wherever she needed to be in her first most awful moments. I am constantly learning how precarious life is.

Today I got to a route at the head of the crowd and was sure that I would get out pretty quickly. My driver was super friendly so I figured he would do his best to try and get us home. Well I should of known that drivers stick together, so when the HUGE bus broke down right in front of out taxi, my driver insisted on helping him and a few others push him off the road.  So finally we touch the road and we are barrelling down Hope Road when all the route taxi drivers are kicking out their passengers before the next intersection. So needless to say the driver we just waited for tells us he can't take the chance and that we have to get on out. Back to walking.

So yesterday Erica & I, with Anita as our consultant, decided we wants to start a route taxi as a social entrepreneurship exercise. I leave you with this video (click here for you computer illiterates) "Two White Girls Pon Di Minibus" to consider the possibilities of Erica & I running a robot.

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