Manila Traffic: When it’s not about the Driver but the Passenger

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Call me a pessimist, but I seriously think that traffic enforcers should start considering issuing tickets to pedestrians who do not follow the Loading-Unloading Zones.

If not for the pedestrians, PUVs won’t be stopping or picking up passengers in the wrong areas anyway.

Take for example this week. I was standing (clearly) in the Loading Zone of the jeepneys going to Baclaran from my subdivision, when a small jeepney emerged from the village right at the corner of the street where I was standing on.

It was slowing down because of the push of traffic behind it, but it was not in the Loading Zone just yet.

The initial reaction of people would be to get into that jeepney because it had no passengers yet. It was free for all to get into without squeezing against each other.

But the call to ride in that jeepney proved to be difficult if you’re trying to balance your actions between your principles and your urgency.

Let me dissect my thoughts at that moment:

A) If I were to walk to that corner and join the horde of people trying to get in, I could get a high chance of sitting on one of my favorite spots (always at the extreme sides: beside the driver – in front or right behind him, or at the entrance part);

B) If I get in fast, I could save time and get to work early. Getting to work early means I waste no money, because every minute renders a deduction from my beloved salary;

C) But if I walk beyond the Loading Zone, I would be breaking the principle of a loading zone, simply because jeepneys are not supposed to pick up passengers in that corner.

But as I stood there and saw the people scramble to get in, I found myself joining them (fine, this is more of a repentant article than a political one) eventually landing on my most favorite spot of all – beside the driver – and making my life super nice.

For a moment.

Because few seconds after that, a traffic enforcer signaled to the driver to stop. It was a lady officer with the guts of Manny Pacquiao. She demanded the driver to show her his license.

The driver, who was in his early twenties, begged the lady officer to let him go. He said it was not his fault. He has just started his day and he did not expect people to ride in his jeepney when he turned at the corner.

I wondered if he had a family. He looked relatively young. I even wondered if it was his first trip. Did he even know what he was doing? I even looked older than him!

“Do you have a license or not?” screamed the lady officer.

I suddenly wondered where it was leading us. What if the guy had no license. Will he go to jail?

She was so mad at him I wanted to go down already and looked for another jeepney. But I stayed. The drama was far too interesting to miss out.

She pointed to him again and again his fault. He kept on saying he knew that but it wasn’t really his.

And I pitied the guy because it was true. If there were ‘criminals’ in that scenario, that would be us, the beloved passengers. All for our eight pesos and hardheadedness, this guy might end up not bringing home his children’s milk (I started to assume he had a family).

I wanted to tell the lady officer all of that, but I played deaf for a minute while the negotiation took place. Chicken.

The lady officer was unrelenting. She was vehement in telling him his violation. But on the inside, I was the one being scolded at, because I was the one who broke the law. I finally looked at the two and when I did, he was already showing her his license.

And she let him go, leaving him a warning never to do it again. I wanted to show my I.D. too, to tell her I didn’t want to do it again! That I will ride only on the designated zones. That I will give my seats to the elderly and not pretend to sleep (OK, I really really give my seats, but I also sometimes pretend to sleep when I am so sleepy). That I will never cross the street outside the pedestrian lane ever again.

She let him go and I never got the chance to say my litany. It was my moment of truth, but it had passed. The driver pressed on the gas pedal and we drove off.

A few seconds after that, his life was back to normal. People started paying their fares. He started giving back their change. No hard-earned money shall be wasted paying for his ticket and no other minute was wasted for me to get into my office on time.

But then again, my life wasn’t back to the normalcy I was expecting. Because I carried this burden long enough for me to share this publicly.

So in another time I choose to break the Loading/Unloading Zone rule, I will volunteer my I.D. to the officer.

About manilacitizen

I am an apostolic kingdom citizen. I edit articles during the day. Preach the Word of God in-between. I am a tourist guide in my free time (which is rare). I am a walker and an eater. I live and thrive in the jungle called Manila. I am a Manila citizen.