Don’t Drink and Write
Vernon B. Sarne

If you drive around a particularly toxic place like Metro Manila, you’re familiar with the scene: Two cars almost hit each other, the drivers roll down their windows, they start cursing each other to high heavens. Often they leave it at that, but at other times they come to blows. Makes you wonder what kind of logic resides in men who despise the mere specter of their cheap sedans receiving a hairline scratch, but don’t mind submitting their own bodies to a violet scuffle.

Even funnier: Many such douchebags wisely pick the subject of their motoring tantrum. They usually know better than to start a fight with the passengers of a heavily tinted Toyota Land Cruiser, for instance. Because God knows what short-tempered politician — accompanied by pistol-whipping acolytes — could be inside the mystery vehicle. But when the morons are 100% sure that the other party will suck even at thumb-wrestling, all hell breaks loose.

Road rage is part and parcel of congested city life. I’ve given in to it, sure. But I swear I make it a point to ascertain that the issue is worth losing my cool over. And it’s normally just to lecture the other driver, because not doing so means I’m condoning the lunacy that poses a threat to public safety. I don’t think I’ve ever been consumed by such fury as to make me want to unleash my inner Chuck Norris on the other person. With ubiquitous camera phones at the ready to document anyone’s Twitter-worthy meltdown, I’d hate to be remembered as that Pasay Road intersection tough guy who had the misfortune of confronting a dorky MMA instructor.

But never mind the bruises to both your torso and ego — those things heal fast. What I’d like to focus on is the more lasting damage a pointless highway flare-up could cost you.

Yesterday, Manila Bulletin business tech editor Art Samaniego, Jr. narrated on his Facebook wall an amusing motoring incident that had happened to him a year ago. He later told me that he had been “itching to write about it” right after the event, but had not been able to for some reason or the other.

This is his story:

“I was in a hurry that morning. I needed to interview a [job] applicant, a nephew of a friend. I parked my old car along Recoletos Street and immediately ran toward the [office] entrance, when suddenly a speeding car almost hit me. I apologized and told the driver, ‘Sorry, sir, nagmamadali lang.’ The driver lowered his window and shouted, ‘P***ng ina mo! Probinsyano ka!’ I again apologized. He then raised his middle finger and said, ‘F**k you.’ Then he drove away. A few minutes later, at the office, I was informed by the lobby guard that an applicant wanted to see me for an interview. I told the guard to send him up to my office. After three minutes, I was again face to face with the guy who had given me the finger.”

This took place in Intramuros, not on Saturday Night Live. It’s so incredible it must be the product of someone’s imagination at a troll farm. One dude said it best, commenting: “I used to think stories like these were made-up.” Apparently they’re not, because somebody lived to tell.

I asked Mr. Samaniego to continue the anecdote.

“He left without talking to me,” he recalled. “Too bad. I believe in giving people second chances. I could have recommended him to the sales or the circulation department.”

At this point, you must already know the self-evident lesson I’m about to rub in. But I’ll do so anyway: Be careful whom you verbally assault (or physically attack) on the road; the person could be the one signing the contract for your once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Not everyone will be as charitable as Mr. Samaniego. Very rarely will someone you’ve reviled welcome you to his workplace and send you away a wealthier fellow. No, people you’ve insulted typically will wish you the worst luck possible. If they can sabotage your means of livelihood, they will.

And even if you do victimize someone as magnanimous as the Pope, I assure you that you won’t have the stomach to face him, as shown by the above-mentioned incident. You’ll simply head back to your car and spend the rest of the week rebuking yourself.

For the love of your bread and butter, behave at the wheel and let it go. The old passenger in the back seat of the other car could be an unassuming tycoon you’ve never heard of. And he may well be on his way to your office to buy it.

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