Monday, December 14, 2009
Man In The Middle
You see him in this busy intersection, and his similarly dressed partners in most other besieged cross streets in the city.
During most hours of the day, and especially as the traffic thickens during commute periods, he looms fearlessly in the middle of the road literally trying to bring a semblance of order to the otherwise otherworldly traffic mess that characterizes this city’s infrastructures. His arm motions are crisp and snappy as harried vehicles respond and whiz by barely missing him by inches.
He is a member of the unheralded group of traffic enforcers under the umbrella of the local RTA.
His faded green shirt labels his station in life and his weather-beaten features are written history of how difficult and hardy life is in the streets, especially in a torrid cauldron like equatorial Philippines where the hot sun beats mercilessly all day as swirling road dust garnishes one’s exposed features and clothes.
The RTA acronym stands for the city’s Roads and Traffic Administration. And it is to be differentiated from the police force which in tandem provides a visible presence in the chaotic streets. The former as one can readily deduce has a bare-minimum uniform and carries no side-arm, no hat, and so quite laidback and casual in dress and demeanor.
Somehow he gets certain things done. And as nighttime descends, some order is brought back to the streets. And just as quickly he disappears into the night, only to return another day.