I try as hard as possible to play by the rules once I’m out of the house. I get in line, use the pedestrian lane, the overpass, use the proper loading and unloading zones, keep right in the escalator and sidewalks to make way for those people behind who may be in a hurry, always mindful of how my movement might affect and indirectly inconvenience others.
And because of that I always get stressed out and my day has not even begun.
There’s something about being part of a society that’s always in survivor mode 24/7 and does not care much for rules when said things impede one’s personal agenda. Suddenly you find yourself unconsciously playing the same despicable game just to avoid being a victim of the many others who feel the rules don’t apply to them.
It reminded me of a video I saw where Singapore statesman Lee Kuan Yew stressed discipline in the individual level as a vital component of a strong nation. And I was thinking about applying that principle to the Philippines and figured it would take nothing less than a miracle to reverse this type of thinking that has apparently become a big part of the culture that seem to foster and encourage exceptions into becoming rules.
Just this morning I almost called out a teenager in 7-11 who couldn’t be bothered with falling in line despite the very obvious queue comprised of me and five more people. At least the cashier possessed enough good sense to call her off and told her to act accordingly. Most store crews don’t even do that.
In a business trip with a colleague to Australia a while ago, our hosts decided to bring us to one of those eat-all-you-can buffets in the suburbs of Sydney. Apparently the sushi bar was a popular part of that restaurant and people were understandably lining up to it. Our hosts, fellow Pinoys who migrated there, called me and my colleague’s attention towards the end of the queue as we sat down to eat our meal.
Near the end of the line where the customers were served, hovered two Asian-looking young women. Obviously trying to snatch a few choice morsels from the bar that operated in a first in first out basis. The two were moving in a way that was similar to ATM users who use multiple cards in one transaction. It was an obvious wholesale snatching for other members of their group.
That they were getting glares from people in line were useless. And we were wondering what country these people came from; and I was a bit relieved to know that this type of thick-faced activity was not exclusive to us Pinoys or in the Philippines. I thought and even made up my mind that they were either immigrant/tourist Cambodians, Indonesians, or Thai. Until a man—presumably their father—from afar told them: “Dalawa pa.” (Two more.)
I found that embarrassment for the actions of fellow countrymen takes a whole new dimension when you’re in a foreign land. Our hosts just gave a resigned shake of their heads. And to think I confidently accused other nationalities first.
I used to be one of those over-sensitive sorts who react with hostility whenever foreigners make generalizations and criticisms about us. But one can hardly blame that sort of perspective especially when examples to the contrary are being supplied effortlessly by the majority of the citizens on a daily basis. One popular saying among companies about good and bad publicity is that no one cares about good work because that’s already expected. Incompetence, bad service, and overall annoyance are the sorts that stick better to memory.
And it’s not even an isolated, occasional incident abroad. And that’s just the simple issue of falling in line. Spend a considerable amount of time using the EDSA MRT and you’ll see how that simple concept, even aided by clear signs instructing people to form only two queues on the platform, become an almost-impossible endeavor to the average passenger.
The same with PUVs. I have always wondered why these drivers almost always load and unload in the most outlandish places where possible accidents can happen as well as cause major inconveniences to other motorists. You can argue that they are just being true to form in being the reigning douchebags of the highways. Or that the commuters/passengers actually dictate where they should be so they can make money. And knowing most commuters—being one myself—they actually insist on disembarking in any convenient spot for them short of their own doorway.
Or waiting in the wrong loading area simply because using the proper facilities require too much effort and work. Waiting in the proper loading zones in most places in Metro Manila guarantees a lifetime of waiting for non-jampacked vehicles because of overeager commuters who can’t be bothered with being inconvenienced with short walks to the proper zones. Where life and limb is risked simply because using the overpass requires too much effort, and because anyone can get away with it.
In an analysis and observation towards this type of jagged individualism, GRP webmaster benign0 wrote:
“Our ability as a people to behave as a collective will not come from political solutions. It will not come from new systems of governance, nor will it come from any new “leaders” or even “heroes” stepping up to the plate. Our ability to behave as a collective — as a UNIT — will come only from deep within the fabric of our character as a people and from a shared sense of what it means to be an individual that belongs.”
Indeed, shared sense of belonging seems to be one of the many integral aspects needed in building a strong society that we desperately lack as a people. As long as each member marches to the beat of his own drum ignoring and refusing to recognize the responsibility that comes with it, we will be in a perpetual blind-leading-the blind situation with no clear directions to propel us forward.
[Image courtesy Creative Bloq.]
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