How Do You Explain Anger

At a very young age, kids do start to feel and experience a lot of emotions, anger included. When present within their environment, anger could be absorbed by their very innocent minds and it starts to build up ready to be expressed when the right time comes. This we learned recently.

Days after our car got rear-ended by a motorcycle, Marcus asked his mother, “Mommy, why does daddy get angry when driving?” I didn’t ask my wife whether our son used the adverb ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ to describe the frequency but the news struck me—and I seem to know the answer anyway.  Marcus who has been allowed on the front passenger seat since he turned seven was not only there to enjoy the view but was after all observing my emotions as well.  Driving must be making people angry so for this same reason he does not want to drive in the future anymore.

I have not offered an explanation to our son since I heard about his observation and conclusion regarding my bad driving habit. However, I all of a sudden have my late New Year resolution declared within me that I should start changing how I drive—at the very least, when he is around—so I could convince him back that driving could be a pleasant experience. If he could actually drive soon is another matter.

“Daddy, I won’t be able to drive.” I heard him say when I allowed him one day to sit on his own on the driver seat while parked. “I still have short legs, can’t reach the pedals yet,” he added. I smiled and said, “Not now, but soon.” I was suppressing sadness, I was telling him a lie.

Driving will be the least of his worries when Marcus gets older. His dystrophy is taking its toll on his mobility and what was once a simple task of standing and staying still is presently becoming more of a challenge. I can see his frustrations often. Last night, I heard his sentiment myself.

“I am angry at God.” A statement he once told his mother, he said it again immediately after we had our regular night prayer. Like a shot of espresso, such short yet strong statement got me back on my senses away from a progressing sleepy state. Time seems to go slow as my mind processes what it heard while at the same tries to recall every plausible explanation it could get from what I learned in Catholic school and from the homilies in the masses I have attended. How on earth am I going to explain and defend God to this child who regularly prays before he goes to bed?

Well my wife and I had something. That God has plans for everyone and everything happens for a reason. That to feel angry at his present condition is perfectly normal but he must understand and keep his faith that God does look after him.  It does sound cliché but it was the most rational we can muster at that very moment. We hope that as Marcus grows up and continues to have more questions in life we also strengthen our faith so that when we will have better and convincing answers. Answers that are real, answers that we know aren’t lies.

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No pictures for now, will not waste time waiting for Photobucket to load. We’re getting a passport of Marcus.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Heading to DFA Alabang)

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Enter the Exit

“Daddy, that’s exit! Wrong way yan!” protests Marcus upon seeing the big EXIT sign as I make a turn to the Greenfield toll gate during a recent trip to Nuvali. Wow, the kid has a point. Among the confusing road signs that we have (which we have a lot by the way) here in our country is the EXIT. Why? Can you recall seeing a toll gate sign that says ENTRANCE? Well, I may not have been paying attention but I can’t remember seeing one.

And I am not alone because I know a lot of drivers would agree. For example, “to go to SLEX (South Luzon Expressway), use the Carmona EXIT,” “If you’re coming from Batangas, you can go to Festival Mall via the Alabang EXIT” are just two examples of common direction instructions that mention EXIT whether that’s coming from or going to the expressway way. Either way, we just neither have an Alabang ENRANCE nor an SLEX ENTRANCE. So can we blame kids as young as Marcus to have the impression that their dads who have been their role models of a good driver—all the others are irresponsible, aren’t they?—are now obviously violating a traffic rule?

The immediate answer of course would be to explain it to them. But would it be plain and simple? I doubt it. It would take some more road trips, and similar you-are-wrong objections, before we can finally make them accept that what they have seen on the ‘opposites’ segment of their educational videos do not apply all the time. Yes, the opposite of ENTRANCE is EXIT but for some reason people who designed the toll gates didn’t consider that there will be parents with mini backseat drivers, who will start to learn how to read, and who will sooner or later question why in the world is his father entering a way with a big and clear exit sign. Good luck to us.

To all dads who will be on the road, happy father’s day! And I hope you don’t miss the exit…or entrance…to your destination.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Got a mini LED key chain with my name on it as father’s day gift from wifey. Yesterday, Marcus gave me a car. Toy car.)

Blindness Falls

Darkness is the absence of light…and blindness is the presence of a oncoming vehicle on high beam.

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The long wait for the part has come to an end. More than a month after my low beam conked out because of a faulty headlight switch, I got the call from my Honda service advisor informing me about the replacement part’s availability. And with this, the people whom I usually meet while on their way back home from a tiring work day will now be so grateful not to have another blinding encounter. To the tired engineers driving their cars, factory workers riding their underbones, Tagaytay-bound party goers, jeepney drivers, tricycle backseat passengers, village security guards, toll booth workers, and others — pedestrians, street dogs, and stray cats included — whom I have blinded, my sincerest apology. I had no choice but to drive on full high beam. Contact a Honda engineer for more explanation why its part no. 35255-S5A-A12 failed before its fifth year.

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If it’s any consolation, I saw the light — my low beam light — again on 12/12/12.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Guilt-free driving again.)

(Book Review) Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

Image taken from Google Books

We have all heard it and will likely continue to hear about it: “We Filipinos are bad drivers…no, we are the worst.” “If you have driven in the Philippines, you can drive anywhere in the world.” These and similar other statements about driving in the Philippines have made us stereotype ourselves and in effect made most of us think that the rest of the world drive in an orderly fashion than we do. But wait, this could not be entirely true at all.

If the author Tom Vanderbilt is to be believed, there a lot others out there who are worse than us and our perennial bad traffic flow – and yes, believe it or not, perceived by many as where traffic laws are fully enforced, the US is included. According to his book Traffic, Why We Drive the Way We Do, bad drivers can be found allover the globe and continue to contribute to road congestion, road rage, and accidents, not to mention stress, just to name a few ill effects of the growing volume of cars and other vehicles that are present at one time in one place.

I got my copy of Tom’s book only after two years since the day I learned about its release and it was only because it was on sale in National Bookstore by half its original price. But sooner I realized that the P300 plus I paid for it is a real steal because the 400-page paperback has a lot more to offer than expected. As I progress from one page to another, it stomps out that know-it-all and I-drive-a-lot-better-than-you premise I have had and which I am sure that other drivers possess as well.

Aside from rich facts about relationship (or lack thereof) of man, machine, and the road, almost each chapter of the book contains information never been made known to common drivers. For example, are you aware that car designers, other than complex mathematical algorithms, also have to deal with factors such human psychology and pop culture to cope up with the growing demand for mobility, thus the need for cars, and its effect to traffic?

“Traffic has become a way of life. The expanding cup holder, which became fully realized standard equipment only in the 1980s, is now the vital enabler of dashboard dining…Fast-food restaurants now clock as much as 70 percent of their sales at drive-through windows…” (page 16)

How would you feel if someone presents to you the idea that road signs invite people to violate it more and that by removing these will improve drivers’ behavior?

“Do traffic signs work, and are they really needed at all? This question has been raised by Hans Monderman…How foolish are we in always telling people how to behave. When you treat people like idiots, they’ll behave like that.” (page 190)

And did you know that our balikbayan relatives could be actually lying every time they smirk in the backseat and follow it up with that famous cliché “walang ganito sa states….”? Why? Because Tom Vanderbilt also exposes the US as having its own share of jaywalkers (Why New Yorkers Jaywalk (and Why they Don’t in Copenhagen: Traffic as Culture); traffic light-beating drivers; and motorcycle riders who shun helmet laws.

Released in 2008, Traffic, Why We Drive the Way We Do, contains vast insights, supported by references and citations, about traffic and therefore makes it a must read book for all of us who continue to wonder what causes bad traffic and if there are indeed solutions to it or if there is none, at least change our own perspective of how we and others drive so that we co-exist better than we do today.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (We’ll be in Nuvali later. Driving with or without the low beam.)

My Own Share of Driver’s Bad Luck

Drive home this morning was eventful. Firstly, I arrived at the toll area with a truck that has just slammed into the opposite toll gate’s concrete barriers and its driver, who appears drunk or sleepy, still arguing with the authorities as if they’re the ones at fault. Then unknowingly I lined up behind someone who, according to the security guard, picked the wrong exit to enter (have you ever realized that either way, a toll gate is always called an EXIT?) and refuses to move out thus requiring me reverse back to transfer to another gate (I have this habit of not tailgating so I was out real quick) . And as if to share the misfortunes of the others, my headlights conked out while I was waiting my turn to cross an intersection — thankfully, dawn is already breaking that time. Ti abi. Not call center TGIF day.

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I searched the web and found a good DIY link that could help me save P4,000 in headlight switch replacement — parts and labor. I’ll find out later.

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Four-year-old Boy in the Backseat

I booked my sister’s family online for their flight to Bacolod and the mistake I made when I finalized the transaction with the wrong departure date requires me to go to PAL’s ticket office in NAIA Terminal 2 to get the revised ticket and pay for the additional fee in the process. But rather than fret about that costly mistake, which I did while sleepy thus missing the most important detail, I considered it as a blessing in disguise. What I initially plan to do by taking public transport alone and recovering my lack of sleep inside a cozy bus and taxi to the airport office, became a trip with me behind the wheel and wifey and Marcus tagging along. We haven’t been together in a mall for a leisurely visit so this one made a trip to MOA justifiable.

During the 30-kilometer trip, Marcus has been talking non-stop, asking repetitive questions. “Where’s the airport?”, “Are we near the airport?”, “Where is MOA?”, “Why are we turning here, not there?” had me and wifey exchange turns to give the same answer. However, other than these are-we-there-yet inquiries, there were those that we don’t know where to get the answers from and there was one that had both of us skipped a heartbeat. We’ve been preparing for the question and I really once thought that I will be ready when that time comes but yesterday I realized that I am not. What a four year-old boy can do. A special four year-old boy in the backseat.

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The reason I got the idea of taking a side trip to MOA is because Marcus had told his mother that he wants to go biking again in MOA and the last time we did this was more than two years ago when we participated in a fun run for a cause. So despite doing it in the evening, and with me restraining myself not to grab something alcoholic from one of the nearby bars and restos and which I know that wifey has another idea of a night out, Marcus successfully got his wish and pedaled his way in the midst of the crowd enjoying the colorful night in SM by the Bay.

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Marcus tweets

Starting today, I will use #4yointhebackseat to tweet about things (hopefully amusing ones) Marcus will say (or have said) while in the backseat. I once started #nurserylog which are about his school days but unfortunately I cannot retrieve the first ones. I am now wondering if there’s some application I can use to import a particular hash tag to my blog and to archive it as well.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks (Anxiety coming back.)

The two sides of the story behind a car accident

It takes two to tango” – Anonymous

 

The Monday morning and prime time news is filled with news about accidents, most of it tragic, involving motorized vehicles. While watching it on TV I can’t do anything but shake my head in disappointment that once again, lives have been wasted and worse, others are lost just because someone failed to drive safely – especially nowadays that rain has made our already bad roads more perilous to drive at. All these pictures of wreckage, twisted metals and bodies, blood and grief sent flashbacks of my own bad memories.

I personally had experienced a costly driving accident that hounded my wife and I for days, even weeks. Although obviously the fault was ours, it could have been avoided by the other driver. That split-second collision played over and over again in my mind like a bad sports replay. Even with the lack of surround cameras, I can almost imagine what took place from all angles. And as much as I’d like to forget it and move forward, I can’t help but still think about so many what ifs and only ifs: If only there were no blind spots; if only my wife didn’t cross the next lane; if only the involved tricycle driver drove cautiously knowing that he’ll pass by a busy village entrance. If only he had braked just in time. What if we weren’t used to wearing our seat belts? What if the tricycle driver went completely through his windshield. I could only ask these questions and more, and yet not even receive definite answers. And even if they won’t admit it, I’m quite sure that the other party had their own regrets as well.

Just like that personal story, so much similar incidents happened and sadly, still keeps on happening as if most of us don’t learn from the repetitive news. Let’s take a look at the recent accidents that we have either witnessed right in front of us or just saw on the news. More often than not, we’ll see that each driver will try to reason out and give their very best to point the immediate blame to the other. It is also very likely that each party will claim that they have the right of way and that one didn’t yield as expected. It is always a hopeless and frustrating battle of one’s word against the other but the real truth behind it all is that the accident won’t happen had ONLY one honestly practiced defensive driving.

It appears though that more of this will continue to occur if we don’t do something about it – like having the common sense. With the traffic volume almost increasing every year, despite the recession, it is expected that travel time will increase, people will rush, drivers will become impatient and in effect become more aggressive. It is when rush hour ironically becomes a time when traffic slows down and it is also when people’s heads get hot sometimes even hotter than their idling engines and it is these hot heads that will likely to blow off steam way ahead of their car’s overheating radiators.

So with such condition making a perfect brew for an accident, a fender bender at the very least, it is usually hard to pinpoint who actually was at fault. It is easy though to have our own prejudice take over. For example, an innocent looking female yuppie is likely to get the sympathy (normally from curious crowds AKA uzis) over a ragged looking jeepney driver during a traffic accident investigation. Likewise, it is also easy to direct anger to someone who has hit a pedestrian than to ask why the pedestrian crossed a non-ped xing zone in the first place.

For me, who has been into an accident, I fully understand that when accidents such as these happen, there are always two sides of the story to be heard – that is, if one is lucky enough to survive it and be able to share his. But whatever the reasons are, one thing will remain clear and certain; that whatever the results of the investigations (and media coverage) are, during these times there aren’t any winners but only losers coming from both sides. So let’s all help preserve life (ours and others) while on the road by driving safely, by driving responsibly.

 

Photo credit:

Brave Heart (from Flickr’s Creative Commons)

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!