Push forward and push hard

Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to ride those big toy cars around or a beat up old cart lying around your neighborhood playground? Or when you and your friends took turns on who should push the other and vice versa? Those were golden days eh? Playing around pushing the cart as fast as you can and then when it is your turn, you ride that cart and then brace yourself. You even try to do a pose whenever you are being pushed! Just a good 2 or 3 hours and you are dead tired. Then you go back to your house and freshen up!

Ahhh… that feeling is just too good to forget. Now, imagine playing around with that cart for 8 – 12 Hours a day. Really? Can you do it?! How about pushing that same cart under the scorching heat that you experience right now? Still up for it? Let us add fuel to the FIRE! Try pushing that cart while 6 – 10 People are riding it. Getting goose bumps on your back? ONE MORE FACTOR to put some fire in your belly! Would you push that cart on a RAILROAD TRACK? Let us sum it up eh? After pushing that cart on a railroad track for 8 – 12 hours under the scorching heat wave while 6 – 10 people are riding it AND at the end of the day… you get paid X amount of pesos. Hahaha! Sounds absurd right?

Now you ask, is this a joke or a riddle, puzzle, conundrum that I found on the internet or better yet… is this a trick question? And the answer is…

NO, IT IS NOT. This is a job that a most of us Pinoys are not aware. I get the feeling that this is unknown and strange to foreigners as well.  But my friends, this is a true profession. People who push trollies on a railroad as means of transportation for people who live in inner streets.

I have been living inside a gated subdivision which happens to have a railroad track running in the middle of it. It is weird but that is how it is. I insist you read on… because the next couple of lines you will be reading is all about a guy named Rudy (Nicknamed: Odie). A guy who pushes trolley on the rail road track that passes through our village.

I parked my bike near the railroad and saw their trolleys parked on the side while they Odie and his friends exchange jokes about former Senator Bong Revilla Jr. (I do not know what the joke was but they sure were laughing hard).

The Trolleys!

I introduced myself to Odie and his friends. I received nothing but the famous Pinoy greeting and with some side comments like, “Oh! Interview daw! Baka Jessica Soho yan boy!” (Oh! It’s an interview! It might be for Jessica Soho boy!)

They were happy and full of smiles! So I sat under the tree where they hang out while waiting for passengers and Odie was kind enough to step up and do the interview with me. I began with a few linear questions… just to get to know the guy.

The Turk Effect: How many years have you been doing this?

Odie: Halos nasa apat na taon na mahigit. (Almost four years or more)

The Turk Effect: How far is the common fare for a trolley?

Odie: Medyo maliit lang ang ikot at pabalik balik lang. Kasi tatlong subdivision ang tinatahak netong riles. (It’s a little short because we just do it back and forth. This railroad stretches to 3 different subdivisions)

Time out! I am just going to make sure you read that right. This railroad reaches out to THREE SUBDIVISIONS! Do you know how far apart these subdivisions are?! Based on my estimate after riding one… It is about 6-8 blocks! Let’s move on…

The Turk Effect: How many hours do you push trolleys per day?

Odie: Uhhh… Kanina nagsimula ako ng Alas Sais. Mamaya gagarahe ako ng Alas Sais din. Kung kumita, garahe na. Kung walang kita, tulak pa. (This morning I started at 6:00am. I will probably stop at around 6:00pm. If I meet the target, I go home. If not, I will push some more.)

The Turk Effect: Target? Like a boundary? Like a Jeepney?!

Odie: Oo may boundary kami kaya dapat masipag! (Yes we have a boundary that’s why we have to be spirited!)

The Turk Effect: That means that the trolley you push is not yours right?

Odie: Oo. Hindi sa akin yan. Dun yan sa may ari kaya kapag kukupad kupad ka, wala kang kita. Baka tanggalin ka pa. (Yes, that is not mine. That’s why you don’t get a chance to be lazy. If you do, you do not get any money. Or worse, you might lose the job.)

This one I did not expect… I honestly thought that these trolleys are just home-made and then they just slam it on the tracks then push. I did not know that these things were regulated by someone… Hmmm… Because if someone makes the trolleys, that would mean the person who makes them probably owns more than 5 of these… making it a business perhaps? I don’t know…

Odie (Right) and his friends!

Moving on. I just had to ask Odie something more personal…

The Turk Effect: I hope you don’t mind if I ask… Do you have kids? If yes, how many?

Odie: Oo meron na. Apat na anak ko! Hahaha! (Yes I have kids! Four of them! Hahaha!)

The Turk Effect: Is the money you earn in pushing trolleys sufficient for you to raise 4 kids?

Odie: Hindi rin. Nag tro trolley ako kapag walang trabaho sa construction. Pero tagal ko na ding nagtutulak, di parin ako kino contact nung kakilala ko. Ehhh Ayaw kong tumambay eh! Wala tayong kakainin kapag ganun. (No. I do this job when I don’t have any contracts with construction. Though it’s been a long time since I had a contract. I am not even contacted by the person I know there… I don’t want to slack off. If that happens, my family won’t have anything to eat.)

The Turk Effect: Amen to that. How about your wife? What does she do for a living?

Odie: Naku! Walang trabaho yun. Nasa bahay lang pero sya nag aalaga ng mga bata. (Oh! She has no job. She just stays in the house taking care of our kids.)

The Turk Effect: Going back, you have 4 kids right? All of them are studying?

Odie: Hindi. Dalawa lang nagaaral sa kanila. May maliit pa ako. Yung isa 2 years old yung isa naman walong buwan. (No.Two of them are studying. I have little ones still. I have a 2 year old and the other one is 8 months old.)

The Turk Effect: I see… How much does trolley pushing give you per day?

Odie: Hindi pare parehas ang kini kita ko dito. Depende sa araw. Minsan 150. Minsan isang daan.Basta may pambili ka lang ng bigas at ulam, ok na. (It’s not always the same. Depends on the day as well. Sometimes it’s 150 pesos, sometimes 100 pesos. Just as long as we can buy rice and other food it’s ok.)

TIME OUT!! I almost choked when I first heard this! ONE HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS PER DAY?! Just to be honest but a hundred and fifty pesos is my personal allowance per day. But I work at home. I mainly use that money to buy coffee or cigarettes or any pick-me-ups in cases when I get the constant mental blocks…

When Odie mentioned the amount that he gets… I did not know how to react. So I just pressed on…

The Turk Effect: I just want to know more about you now… What course did you finish in College?

Odie: Ay hindi ako tapos ng kolehiyo. 3rd year high school lang ako inabot ko. (I did not get to College. I just finished 3rd Year high school)

The Turk Effect: Did you ever consider going back to finish your schooling?

Odie: Hindi na rin. Nabarkada ako, tapos ayun na. Sumunod nun… nagtrabaho na din ako. (Did not even think of studying again. I hung out too much with a couple of friends and the next thing I know, I started to work from there.)

The Turk Effect: This is just a general question… Is it hard pushing trolleys for a living?

Odie: Aba, mahirap! Lalo na at kainitan na ganyan! Mahirap talaga! Tagaktak pawis mo dyan hanggang tuhod para kumita ka lang! Wag ka lang magnakaw. Itong pagtro trolley, marangal na trabaho yan. (Oh it’s hard work! It is even harder with this kind of heat! It’s really hard! Your sweat will be dripping down to your knees just to earn money. Just do not steal from anyone. Pushing trolleys is an honorable job.)

The Turk Effect: I definitely agree on that. I know that you must have a lot of things that you say to your kids about this, but what are the typical lessons you teach them to face the world today?

Odie: Anak, wag na kayong gumaya sa iba na kung anu ano ang ginagawang masama para kumita ng pera. Kung ano ang andyan sa atin, pag-tiisan nyo. Kung wala wag na kayong maghanap. (Kids, do not try to follow other people’s example, those who would do bad things just to make a quick buck. Whatever it is that we have, just make do).

The Turk Effect: My parents used to tell me the same thing because back when I was kid, we lived near a railroad and we were taught to be humble and be content with what we have. Now, Odie before I end the interview right here… do you have any message to the people who are reading this?

True principles… It does bloom on the weirdest of places.

Odie:  Kahit na anong trabaho, tandaan na galingan lang. Kasi prinsipyo ko din yun na basta hinid ako nakakasagasa ng tao, tulak lang ng tulak. (Whatever job you have, just remember to do good. Because that’s my principle. As long as I don’t step on anyone’s toes… I’ll do the job.)

The Truth about principles

Hmmm… Principles. It blooms in the weirdest of places, right? I know of people who earn a hundred times more compared to Odie, but live without having an honest principle in life. And having met someone who is dead center on doing good and not stepping on others makes me what to think very hard about my own principles. This is what makes you better than others I guess.

Personally, the things I heard when I was talking to Odie was really an eye-opener. Not just because of what he does for a living but on how he looks at it from a different angle. I am pretty sure that you might be saying that his job is hard and all that but what you might fail to see is how happy he is doing what he does despite the challenges.

I talked to Odie some more and exchanged a few jokes. I must have chatted with the guy for a good 30 minutes. Just talking about everything! We definitely clicked  right then and there. I asked him if I can ride the trolley and even asked if I could push it but he refused to let me pilot the thing. (Kill joy if you ask me! Just kidding of course!)

Now… I just have to ask you again… can you push a trolley smacked on a railroad track for 8 – 12 hours under the scorching heat wave while 6 – 10 people are riding it AND at the end of the day… you get paid 150 pesos?