Problems are a given. For the optimist, they’re challenges – test of morality, patience, or the innate goodness of man. For the everyday zombie – work in, work out – these problems always have a way around them.
Breaking rules in the Philippines is easy. Take commuting and transportation as a microcosm.
The rules of commuting in the country are pretty much de facto. You can hail a cab or a jeepney anywhere, regardless of the paint lines on the road. You can get a ride regardless of the presence or absence of waiting sheds. You can go after a running vehicle as long as there’s no blaming the driver afterward.
On average, from Makati to Quezon City, I get to work in an hour, already taking into account the long queues at the train station (but on a bad day when trains decide they can’t endure the pushing and tugging of passengers, it takes an hour and a half.).
Now, rules at the MRT are simple: 1) there are train wagon for males, wagons for females, and wagons for PWDs, pregnant women, and families with children, and 2) you can enter a different wagon as long as the guard doesn’t see you – which is often. And what do cheaters get: a few stink-stares and more time for themselves. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Meanwhile, getting home for me used to be a different story averaging two hours of commute. This was because after standing several minutes in the train, I used to queue at the jeepney terminal afterward to get home, which always took an hour and a regret mantra of “Walking home would take me only 20 minutes” – but let’s save that for a different post. Then, whenever my chance of getting a ride home came closer, I often saw people just running after jeepneys not parked at the terminal but nevertheless trudged the same route. These cars and people were breaking the unwritten rule of falling in line, but the only reprimand they got was from barkers telling them “Sa baba kayo!” Translation: Load your passengers away from the terminal. Walking a little ways farther wasn’t bad at all if that meant getting home earlier.
My epiphany came one night when it took me almost two hours to cut down the queue and finally get a seat home. It was ridiculous. By the time I got home, I kept ranting and ranting and it was nonsense. I didn’t want to be that kind of person. So from then on, I had decided to be a zombie, break the rule of the queue and fancy me some extra hours I have home and awake, which I didn’t have before because I was being a moral jerk. Time, is after all, irretrievable. If I keep spending time on falling in line, I would be a ranting adult one day with plenty of regrets trying to make up for lost time by chasing the sun and the moon and getting me red circles under the eyes. a long-term zombie.
These probably seem petty, but imagine seeing rule breakers and rules being broken every day. It creates a foundation, an idea that breaking rules is more advantageous not just in the present but more likely in the long run as well.
I am guilty, but in hoc signo vinces.
In this sign I conquer.