Lapsing Into Road Rage

I really hate Manila road traffic.


There’s this saying that anyone who learns how to drive and gain experience in driving on the roads of Manila are considered the best drivers in the world. I believe in that saying, considering how tough it is to maneuver your car around the city, with its bumper-to-bumper traffic, bad roads, and road hazard public utility vehicles driven by obnoxious drivers. Driving here is a daily exercise in Zen-like patience.


Thankfully for me, I’m a very patient driver in general. I’m not the super-safe driver that will take an extra hour to get to a place because I’m terrified to get my car dented – my life as a midnight, underground street racer in the ‘90s contradicts that fact. My 1998 Honda Civic is so dented I can challenge the Yukarimobile of Yukari Tanizaki of Azumanga Daioh in sheer numbers of road scars. But it doesn’t mean I’m completely reckless as well. I’m just an ordinary motorist whose experience with these things sways between the safe and the speedster. It’s just that I am not easily susceptible to succumb to the bane of all motorists and commuters alike – road rage.


But like everyone else, I have a limit to my patience.


Just a few hours ago, I was on my way to pick up my dad at his law office along EDSA-San Juan. I was stuck in traffic along Ortigas Avenue, near the gate to the MERALCO compound. I was crossing a stoplight when a Jeepney (that a Public Utility Jeepney – a crossbreed mongrel public transport vehicle made from salvaged US Army WWII Jeeps that crisscross the entire country like ants), cut in front of me. That alone would have raised my tension levels, but since it was traffic and everyone was doing it (cutting lanes), I let it be.


We crossed the intersection, and stopped in the traffic. I was listening to the radio when I noticed the Jeepney sliding backwards (we were on an incline road), so I pumped into my horn to signal him. Apparently the driver didn’t hear me, so his Jeepney slid towards me. Thankfully he managed to hit his brakes, but he still nudged my car.


That alone would have sent me ballistic – I mean my car wasn’t the newest and best looking on the streets, but damned if I’m gonna let some feeling-badass Jeepney driver bump it like it was nothing. But that wasn’t the reason I was really riled. Right before the jerk hit me, an elderly couple was trying to get off the Jeepney and the woman (who was getting off first) was already on the road and got pushed back to my car by the Jeepney.


I muttered a curse at the driver.


The last thing I wanted to happen was to be involved in a traffic accident, so I prepared to get off the car. Thankfully she was frightened but unhurt, and the woman and her husband frantically scampered away, helped by a MMDA traffic enforcer who luckily was nearby. I got out and talked to the enforcer, who told me the lady was lucky she was to the side of my car when she got off, or else the Jeepney driver would have pinned her between us.


I checked the damage to my car (thankfully, besides a bend plate number and few more scratches, there was none), and thanked the enforcer, who asking me if I wanted to press charges against the Jeepney driver, who was hovering a few meters away, apparently scared and not knowing what to do. Telling the enforcer that it wasn’t necessary, I got back in and floored the gas, cut the Jeepney, got out and gave the driver the finger. Seeing that my lane going to Greenhills was open, and his lane towards Ortigas was clogged, I gave his Jeepney’s hood a good slam with an open palm, got back in my car and drove away.


I know I’m not showing anything good to fellow drivers and young kids with my actions, and I apologize for that. But the driver had it coming, and he was lucky that was all I did. I know of a friend who threw a rock at the windshield of Jeepney one time for tagging him. And with the spat of road rage shootings of late in Manila, if it was someone else with a gun, he’d be dead. If I was caught by the enforcer by doing that, I would have accepted that. But I needed was to release my anger.


But like I said, I don’t want you guys to emulate what I did. Road rage is wrong, however you justify it. Sometime road rage kills.


But nobody’s perfect – we all blow fuses once in awhile.


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