Tempers must always be cooler than temp gauges

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An overheating car may be a most common sight on the road. It sure is a bummer to experience one yourself. And you will, eventually, just like the certainty of you dealing with your own flat tire, no matter how diligent you do your pre-trip “Blowbagets”.

Blown tires. Steaming radiators. These are ordinary sights by the road side. They’re minor nuisances, and come with the territory.

But a driver who’s blown his top, steaming hot under the collar, and beating or berating a fellow motorist by the roadside? That’s uncommon, and will prompt any bystander with a working cameraphone to whip up the gadget and start recording away, or in the absence of a camera-toting witness, the CCTV footage to be made public.

That’s what exactly happened about a month ago when a CCTV video of a businessman, his female partner, and their bodyguards showed them ganging up on two traffic enforcers, apparently after the enforcers apprehended them for beating the red light.

The footage, which went viral, eventually opened a can of worms, and revealed the businessman’s alleged dark, bloodstained past.

This led to a raid by the police on the businessman’s house in Makati, whereupon unlicensed firearms and grenades were allegedly discovered in the premises.

Now, that businessman is in jail, facing multiple charges. All because he blew his top over a simple violation that would have cost him so much less if he only kept his cool.

This is but just one incident in a growing number of viral videos circulating on social media. All of them involve hotheads getting physical with their victims.

When a society that is steeped in the movie, TV and radio melodrama formula of nang-aapi (oppressor) and naaapi (oppressed) see a real-life video that apparently exemplifies this scenario, you can bet who the viewing public will be rooting for.

We love underdogs, or to be more precise about it, we tend to side with the one who’s getting beat up, insulted, demeaned, or taken advantage of.

But only from the perspective of what we see in the moment, during that footage, and whatever clarifications any text or caption that footage may bring.

Our maddening, congested roads are fertile grounds for such scenes of extreme emotions.

If all of us road users were actors in a big stage, then it wouldn’t take much to bring us “into character” as the kontrabida.

Someone may cut into your path, or another may block your way, and that internal temp gauge in you may be on the rise.

As a road user for so many years, I know I’ve been on the brink of psychological “overheating” myself.

I may have flipped the bird, or shouted invectives at a fellow driver once or twice. I know that any one of these actions could have escalated into something much worse.

I’m both thankful and regretful: thankful that that the fellow at the receiving end of my middle finger didn’t fire back with an actual gun, or that the pedestrian I shouted at didn’t pick up a brick and shatter my windshield; regretful that I let my emotions get the best of me.

Most of all, I’m thankful that all my road indiscretions happened before the age of cellphone cameras and online social media.

Over the years, I’ve practiced my own ways of “adding coolant” to my internal radiator, so to speak.

It’s more like adopting a mindset that there will be hassles on the way, no matter what time or day, and that, like everything else, these hassles will pass without you having to lift a finger.

As much as possible, before I drive, I make sure I got enough sleep the night before, and that I am not hungry or thirsty.

I map out my route before leaving. Nowadays, navigational apps like Waze and Google Maps offer the convenience of guiding your way through streets with the least traffic (or during times when all the streets are shown angry red with bumper-to-bumper traffic, they set realistic expectations).

So, this early, I’d like to remind readers of the upcoming Undas holiday (overlapping the Halloween and All Souls’ Day holidays).

There will be additional vehicle volume on the road on these days, especially near or around the country’s biggest cemeteries.

Add to that the closures of some of Metro Manila’s busiest bridges, and you will get the heavier-than-usual traffic—surely another breeding ground for hot tempers and short fuses.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) also offers its own advice to keep motorists’ collective cool.

These include:

1. Always follow traffic signs.

2. Dim headlights when approaching another motor vehicle.

3. Always use your turn signals when changing lanes or directions.

4. On expressways, the innermost (left) lane is used only for passing or overtaking vehicles.

Apart from keeping our tempers at bay, these are not merely “suggestions.” These are actual rules that, if you fail to follow, may end up in you holding that traffic violation ticket.

I guess the biggest key to keeping your cool is tolerance. Accept that others don’t drive like you do, and have a different sense of urgency.

Accept that there will be speed demons who will hurry you up and tailgate you, as much as there will be slowpokes who will delay you.

Be ready for motorists who intend to run you over even when you’re firmly on a pedestrian lane.

Accept that vehicles with less than four wheels will squeeze in every available road space, and be ready when they come from out of nowhere to beat you to that space.

Be tolerant, but also be on the ready. Install your vehicles with dash cams (or if you’re on a motorcycle or bicycle, helmet-mounted cameras).

It’s now pretty evident that videos tell so much more than just police reports.



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