reaping the cost of solitude

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

What I've Learned from Driving in the Philippines

If there's anything I've learned from driving in the Philippines, it's that Filipinos are the most impatient drivers. Anyone who's ever tried driving through the city will immediately notice.

FACT: There's always someone trying to cut you off.

Lanes? Who cares? Forget everything you learned about lanes or how only the width of a single car can fit in one. Out here, 2 or even 3 cars can fit. Chalk it up to Filipino ingenuity. And as long as your car is not physically occupying a space in your lane, no matter how small, it's basically up-for-grabs. Filipino drivers, especially those driving public transportation, literally go nuts when they see an empty space in front of you. They must have it. Even if it only means they'll be closer to their destination by 2-3 feet - doesn't matter to them. Not even if traffic is at a standstill. Screw your space and screw you! If all else fails, they can always drive through the sidewalk. (Yeah, screw you pedestrians too!)

For someone who at least tries to practice courtesy on the road, it can be infuriating to be constantly screwed over by these undesirable folk; so much that you yourself end up adamant about not letting anyone cut you off. You then become accustomed and later immune to this road dynamic and after years of getting cut off and avoiding getting cut off, you eventually end up cutting off everyone else instead. Might as well cut or be cut, right? I'm afraid my highly-regarded road courtesy will deteriorate to that point someday, but I'm optimistic it won't. All you need is a lighter foot, some good music, some horrible singing and you'll be the happiest driver around. Eager and more than glad to yield to the cutters - yep, that name sounds about right -  the darned cutters.

Besides, blocking off a cutter is even worse. Not only do you set yourself up for a no-eye-contact contest - once the lights turn green, I guarantee you'll involuntarily participate in a mini drag-race with the alleged cutter. You then begin to tremble in a fit of rage, start to black out, and become a fuming road monster who refuses to be screwed over by this little bitch cutter. Around this point, a road mishap is likely; or if you're someone who likes carrying a pistol inside your car for some reason, this is about the right time to demonstrate your excellent marksmanship skills after several days of practicing at a gun range in Danao; OR ... both you and the cutter get away unscathed. You then drive home, eat dinner, brush your teeth, watch TV, and wonder if it was all worth it.

It's in your best interest to just be awesome and butcher all of your favorite songs.

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