Once read a flippant study in the US about how everyday motorists show certain attitudes in public. The study was executed quite simply, watching and recording behavior of motorists while idling in front of an intersection waiting for the lights to turn.
And the expected results came out quite cut and dried. When an expensive car like a Mercedes (that was then the example given) tarries a bit after the lights turn, there was a marked though muted hesitance of those in the back to start honking their horns. Not in the case of a more common and less-expensive car because almost immediately angry horns would start blaring at the first sign of delay.
The obvious inference was that those in the back associate expensive cars with important and influential people and thus the hesitance, and maybe, the fear to enrage the mighty and powerful. Not so with regular folks driving the typical sedans you see toiling around.
Nothing new here. Especially in this age when perception is king. A local Hizzoner who initially portrayed himself as the spokesperson of the masa was noted upon his election to have selected the most expensive SUV to be found locally, instead of taking possession of the former mayor’s still-looking-new and expensive service car. One to commemorate and to measure up to a newly-minted exalted position?
Anyway, this behavior is true in the US, and true everywhere else I dare say. And I cull from my own personal experiences to drive home this well-worn point
Here in the old homeland, I typically have 3 options of vehicles to drive. There was a 4th one, a two-wheeler, but because of real imminent dangers to life and limb decided to consign it to the mountains for some other use.
Lucky me? Not really, since all 3 of them are quite old – the latest one having come out in 2007, the oldest a remnant of 1995, and the 3rd, a pretender of a vehicle bought over 10 years ago. Anyway, they all have one general purpose, to get me from Point A to Point B said idiomatically, with the least amount of accompanying problems like ease of parking, and maneuverability in narrowed streets and traffic jams. Thus, for certain specific purposes and occasions, each fills the bill which the 2 others would not be able to do as well. Thus my choices as to which vehicle to use would be predicated by the purpose or purposes of the trip.
In Cagayan de Oro, with all the attendant traffic problems plaguing the city, the ideal would have been the motorbike. It could go most anywhere, even on sidewalks and parking would pose no problem. But the lurking trade-off is the risk to one’s health, both physical and mental. So on to the next best options.
Since we are dealing with behavior of motorists, one can say outright that the vehicle that gets the least respect and courtesy is the smallish and cheap Multicab van, and the one that is better deferred to would be the DMax, I guess partly because of its very robust engine and size. And thus, its overall price. And the oldest one the L200 pick-up is in the middle, at times getting some respect but in most other times treated like the aged senior citizen that it is.
So how do all of this translate or play out into the reality that driving around the streets of the city on any given day is?
For sure, driving the Multicab literally means getting no respect or quarter at all. From all and sundry. Not from the huge and shiny SUVs with their deeply-tinted windows. Certainly not from the gargantuan trucks oozing out of the city’s narrow streets. Not from the devil-may-care jeepneys/taxis and other public utilities. Not from the relas who live in a world all to their own. Not from the pesky pedicabs sprouting all over the place. And yes, not even from the wayward pedestrians and the traffic enforcers when they are around. Why, last Friday one RTA personnel manning a busy intersection could not help himself mutter within earshot how slow my Multicab was in clearing the intersection he was trying to keep from tangling.
This means none of them would give you an inch of right of way even if you waited till kingdom come. Unless one forces the issue on them, playing a dangerous game of chicken. And worse, all of them including the noisy motorbikes, will literally steal into your lane or where you find yourself driving, solely at their own pleasure and discretion and no amount of honking could even get the attention of those deaf and dumb motorists. Though one knows they hear all right.
Yes, the multicab hereabouts could be deemed the perennial concept vehicle of the masa. They are just so utilitarian and so darn cheap vehicles they can be used for anything and everything – as service car, as family van, as public utility, as whatever. No wonder not only the masa but including polite society can only show derision and loathing for such low class. And if you drive one, consider yourself as having been dumped into the same dire category. Getting no respect or courtesy at all, or any quarter given.
But when not driving the multicab, the gray L200 comes in very handy. Old enough as to not worry about dings and dents, but quite reliable enough because of its older model diesel engine. Has good loading capacity for short hauls. Except driving it leads to a bit of confusion, because somehow one is not sure how the rest of the traffic denizens would regard it. Like I said at times they show it some respect, and because of it one is not left languishing behind in busy intersections. And one has clout enough to play the game of chicken when the need arises. Still the classier guys those driving such new and nice SUVS with deeply-tinted windows will dismiss you because you are old and thus not worth much and definitely out of their league. They will most likely not give you the time of day in terms of right of way and exclusivity of driving lanes, preferring to ease you to a corner where you can only wait for them to pass you by to breathe in their noxious exhaust. This they can do because they are newer and with more muscles, and because they can.
But driving the DMax is a totally different experience. Why you could even play devil-may-care road hog if you had the mind and bent to do so. You feel you are on top of the world, cruising gallantly and victoriously through the rubble and trash called the rest of traffic. Why you make people feel that you are the king of the road, having your way with traffic rules and regulations as strictures to be observed only by those who are less gifted and blessed. Thus parking regulations cannot claim you as part of their domain, but for you to lord over them, at times with a simple flick of the hazard light button even in the middle of the street with traffic crawling all over. In the world of the lawless, you are on 7th heaven.
Then one wakes up and realizes one cannot be happy or at ease entertaining such lofty presumptions. Rather one wants to play the role of civic-minded motorist trying to obey traffic regulations in the hope of improving the chaotic situation. Like the proverbial candle lighted in that stormy sea of lawlessness
Still, it is nice to think that when I drive that DMax one could actually explore an upside-down world. A world where individuality reigns, rather than the common good. Or where selfish personal whims pre-empt social goals.