Monday, January 28, 2002

Dominique has done it again. In her recent posting (Rant) she mentions the traffic problem for Montrealers. This set me off thinking about the Philippines again. From a different, misplaced Texan gone Yankee, perspective I see Quebec as right about where it oughta be. While growing up in a border city in the desert southwest, I ended up wandering across the border into Mexico more often than was considered normal. I loved Ciudad Juarez and became very excited with exploring a foreign country.

Traffic in Mexico sounds just like Dominique's recant of Montreal knee nudgers. When I arrived in Manila this last May, I saw this third world country as a carbon copy of Mexico and felt right at home. I began coining the term, "Organized Chaos," in reference to the observed bedlam that always seemed to move and work itself out even when there appeared to be no structure, traffic lights, stop signs or rules.

Once, upon return to Manila after a week in the southern jungle of Mindanao, I was in a taxi heading to Ermita when I noticed the taxi driver nudge the side view mirror on a Jeepney in his haste to get ahead of the slower moving traffic that lay before him. The Jeepney driver didn't lose his cool, but rather glanced a sidelong glance at the taxi driver and merely straightened his side mirror again. The taxi driver looked at me in his rear view mirror and smiled a knowing smile, breaking all language barriers with the implication that he had just gotten away with a mild, "Hit and Run."

I never observed road rage in the Philippines, probably because pride is an overriding factor in the Southeast Asian society and their culture does not condone violent acts. Our society seems to not only condone it, but nurse it and breed it. Why is that? What do we benefit from it? Do Asians possess some genetic trait that exonerates them from the propensity for rage? I think we can learn something from the Asians.

The traffic situation? I'm afraid it's here to stay in the bigger cities. I too learned to become an expert at gauging the distance between a coming car and the time it takes to run to the other side, regardless of traffic lights. You either learn to survive in this world or get taken out. Tonight, at the Sanbornton town line, a deer was on the road in front of me. If it hadn't been for my quick thinking (having hit one a few years ago) I would have hit him as rather than run away from my truck, he ran into my lane. I hit the brakes and luckily he bounded away. Are we intruders in their world or are they intruders in ours? Are Montreal pedestrians intruders in the drivers world or are the drivers intruders in the pedestrian world? -Jeeem-


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