For the past three years since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I have been working at OpinYon’s Laguna office. I’ve already worked here for a year after starting my job in 2014 before we moved to Metro Manila in 2015, so when our publisher, Mr. Ray Junia, assigned me to work in Laguna to supervise this local edition when it was reactivated after three months of lockdowns, I was prepared.
There are some advantages of working close to home – nowadays, I could get from home to work and back in 30 minutes. That’s a far cry from the pre-pandemic days when my commute from Makati City back to Laguna would take about three hours one-way (one hour which was wasted waiting for a bus ride home).
But you know what I miss the most on my pre-pandemic routine? Getting to sit on my “thinking chairs.”
If you’ve ever watched the popular children’s show “Blue’s Clues,” you’ll understand what I mean. In that show, the “Thinking Chair” was an oversized sofa when, at the end of the show, the host would sit down and think about what the “clues” (paw imprints that Blue the dog would make on certain items that the host would draw on his notebook) mean.
Every writer has his own “Thinking Chairs.” That’s their own quiet spot when they are free to think not just about their next topic but, well, anything about the sun. And it doesn’t have to be a sofa or couch like the one in “Blue’s Clues.” It could be a stone bench or a tree stump or anywhere he could sit. I’ve got a college classmate who once said her own thinking chair was, er, the toilets.
I also had a thinking chair in the pre-pandemic era. No, wait – that should be “thinking chairs.” They come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes upholstered, sometimes with a wooden backseat. Sometimes airconditioned, sometimes open-air. And those “thinking chairs” are bound to have graffiti on their backs, not to mention things stuck inside – candy wrappers or even old receipts, for instance.
Yes, you guessed it right – my “thinking chairs” are bus seats.
Traffic, sure, can mean hell for many of us commuters from Laguna province. But to me, in the pre-pandemic days, traffic gave me an opportunity to think and meditate. Some of my best story ideas I get when just staring at the bus window and looking at the endless sea of vehicles at the South Luzon Expressway. In fact, by the time I get off the bus, I would have probably made a whole movie. In my mind, of course.
That sort of thing I couldn’t do nowadays, as I had to be on my toes to get off since my jeepney commute now lasts just 15 minutes. (Earlier during the height of the pandemic, I tried to recapture the old feeling by boarding JAC Liner buses at Biñan and getting off in San Pedro, but that stopped when public transport were fully restored and I was able to get on jeepneys.)
The result? My creative juices were on the prone of drying up. Sometimes I couldn’t even think of what I could write for this column space. Sure, I no longer have to endure the “hellish” commute of the metropolis, but I sure wish I had longer time for my own creativity to be fired up.
And another thing I miss most? Being able to sleep inside a bus.