Friday, March 31, 2006

SEATBELTS AND TAXIS IN THE PHILIPPINES

The thing about the taxis in Baguio is that, quite often, the passenger seat doesn't have a working seatbelt. It's bent, or twisted, or not there altogether. And whenever I make noises about this, annoyed noises, the driver smiles and says: "It's okay, it's okay."

I think what's happening is, my complaint about the seatbelts is taken as some sort of insult by the driver, as if I'm criticizing his driving, as if I'm implying that he's the sort of shady character and reckless cretin that would purposely get us into an accident. But I'm not worried about him. I'm worried about the other drivers, the ones that might hit us. And the drivers always wear their seatbelts, so why should they take my wanting to have seatbelt in the wrong way?

These are the little things you think about, living in a foreign country. Add them up, all the little things, and you have a new way of looking at life.

With or without a seatbelt on.

2 comments:

Harrison said...

Mr. Spencer,
You rock. I love coming back to your blog and smiling dude - honestly, everything you write about hits a heartstring with me. Taxis - my job of jobs, and Back to the Future II. Geez dude, you and I couldn't be any more similar...in some ways.
Hope all is well with you, I'll email soon. Peace - keep up the amazing writing!
H-san

Craig said...

Despite the complete absence of anything remotely resembling traffic rules, driving is actually quite safe as having a collision is considered very bad form. Drivers think nothing of driving five abreast on a three lane street, going the wrong way on one way streets, backing up into the intersection where they missed their turn or making left turns from the far right lane, but no matter how incredibly screwy their maneuvers might be, they are always careful to avoid collisions. The police never enforce the rules because when they do it's always assumed that they are soliciting bribes, but when a collision occurs no one can question their motives as they do have to referee and then it becomes a bidding war to see who was at fault for the collision.