So. Who knew they’d be many eyes on you while taking public transport on any given Sunday?
Let me count the ways.
There I was, taking the TransJakarta bus from Ragunan to Halimun then hopping on to the one that heads to Pulo Gadung.
Me and a few other men step on a red TJ bus, shuffling a bit di sisi belakang. I’ve got my backpack on, dan gak biasanya I wear it on the front ‘cos it’s pretty heavy.
Looking overly cautious? Maybe. Ada a couple of bros who stepped off di Matraman wearing it the same way. Must be a thing these days.
Gak juga sih.
I take out my phone to check a few emails, send a few texts, and snap a few Snaps. Busy on my phone with the powerbank in my hands, I notice something fishy.
I notice that I’m being noticed by people in and around the bus. And not for my halfway decent good looks either.
So again, let me recap as it happened:
- One slightly built guy hopped on from the Matraman busway shelter.
He wore something that looked like a purple gym bag and knockoff Nike sneakers. As I shuffled around by the opposite door looking for air conditioning, I notice the dude slightly invading my personal space.
I remembered a Path post from my friend Ditto about someone trying to cut through his bag but failing, so I look down and see he’s really too close for comfort, with one hand near and below my bag. I noticed my balls were still intact, so that’s good. I don’t see a blade, but then I look around…
- Right behind me is a shifty dude in a cap.
I notice him fidgeting and nervously making odd hand signals; tapping his head or taking his hat on and off again. He’s looking all the way to the front side of the bus.
- At the front of the bus, I notice an inconspicuous bunch of guys with one African dude in a proper white shirt.
Don’t wanna stereotype here, but reading the news these days about foreigners running organised crime, my normally unused brain told me to put. The phone. Down.
- From here I look back to the guys sitting in the top back row. Some looked like normal passengers while I noticed at least two guys looking tense and doing the same hand signals.
One of them made a ‘hand washing’ hand gesture, which I interpreted as what either could be a signal saying that they’ve been found out, or maybe an encouragement to tail the target.
Either way, I’ve seen something like this before…
So. At this point we’ve noticed:
- One suspicious bulky suspect with the gym bag and fake ass Nikes,
- One suspected accomplice in the cap doing jazz hand signals,
- At least one or two men sitting in the back with full view of the whole bus,
- And one suspicious African mastermind who looks like any other African dood you’d stumble on at Sarinah.
While putting my phone in my bag, I notice Suspect No. 2 keeping eyes on it. I unplug it from my powerbank and hide my phone somewhere else.
Shifty Suspect No. 2 suddenly moves to an empty seat in the back, doing those dodgy hand gestures again. An ‘I’m sweating’ gesture, a little pull on the nose; maybe the dude is just a street mime in training.
Good thing my stop is approaching soon.
As this happens, I don’t really notice a TJ officer around (maybe he or she was up at the front? Didn’t see or hear anyone shouting out orders or bus stops as per usual). Luckily, a dude in a Damri shirt hops on the bus and stands right beside me.
It’s almost my turn to get off the TJ bus. I make sure to notice where these shifty dudes are going.
The bus stops. I wait it out for awhile. People go in and out.
Then I make my exit.
As I step on the busway shelter, one of the dodgy dudes gets off too.
But then, I notice exactly three other people at the busway shelter (four, including Suspect No. 2).
Keeping up score, more players are in the mix.
5. One dude in a shirt and glasses standing while on his phone,
6. One Mbak Berjilbab sitting in a corner with her BlackBerry. In this day and age? A BB? Curious.
7. One androgynous looking female in a hoodie with no undershirt but has the zip down, like way down. Again, curious fashion choice. She’s sitting in the corner with the Mbak Berjilbab, peering through her old iPhone.
A total of four suspicious looking people at the Sunan Giri shelter but no TJ officers. Not a single one.
Since the bespectacled guy on the phone turned around to look at me weirdly, I decide to sit between Mbak Berjilbab and her Androgyny Buddy.
They look tense while Mbak B fake types on her BB. They both just sit listlessly while occasionally looking up, signaling to someone, somewhere around the area.
I ask Androgyny B what the time is.
She silently points at the phone clock (12:48) while a dodgy remix song name scrolls along the top.
Four against one ain’t bad, but I make a point to slip in a pointy pen under my jacket sleeve in case things turn for the worst and it’s time to stab a bitch.
Suddenly, I hear some people chanting in the background, while car horns blare louder and louder from the side.
Turns out the red light counter nearby is quickly ticking, so I head up quickly and scuttle off to cross the road.
With a quick glance, I notice a funeral procession going on as a group of people from the neighbourhood are chaperoning a casket through the busway lane.
While I exit stage right and negotiate my next ride with an ojek pangkalan, I take a quick glance behind my shoulder and just sigh with uneventful relief.
So kids, make a point to look up from that friggin’ phone once in awhile.
Who knows, someone might be watching.