How’s My Driving?
All public transport vehicles in the Philippines (taxis, jeepneys, tricycles, trucks) are required by law to have a sign on the back of their vehicle asking “How’s My Driving?” with a phone number, presumably so one can report a driver for bad or dangerous driving.
This is ironic and humorous in the extreme. I am trying to imagine what a phone call report would actually sound like…
“Hello, is that the How’s my Driving hotline? I’d like to report some bad and dangerous driving.”
“Certainly, Po! Please make your report, sir!”
“Ok, um… well, I was in a taxi this morning. This guy drove at incredible speed down narrow alleyways, causing pedestrians to jump up into windowsills or dive into doorways. He didn’t slow down at cross streets. Just went straight through, without looking. He bobbed and swayed and nudged his way through dense traffic with his foot down, often with millimetres to spare, squeezing us through spaces that the laws of dimensional physics do generally not allow.
“He made random u-turns, blasted his horn every few seconds and totally ignored any traffic signs or traffic lights. And he played his radio really loud. Celine Dion, full volume.
“He overtook directly into the path of oncoming traffic, swerving out of the way at the last second. He drove in between lanes, cut others off and merged when it wasn’t his right to do so. He careened around corners on two wheels, and frequently would grab for the crucifix dangling from his rear vision mirror and massage it vigorously with his thumb, before crossing himself and mumbling what I presume were prayers for survival.
“Despite being a professional driver, he seemed to not know where he was or where he was going. Each turn into a side street came up as a sudden surprise. He turned right from the far left lane, across four lanes, suddenly making us perpendicular to the flow of dense fast traffic, now swerving around us with horns dopple-gangering and the terrified faces of other tourists pressed against the glass of their own cars blurring past us. His navigation system was not a street directory or GPS, but rather frequently winding down his window and yelling at people on the street for directions, which were often contradictory or confused at best, leading us to circuitous routes and sudden changes of direction. One guy gave him advice, and after a few left turns, he wound down the window again and asked the next bloke for directions… it was the same guy!
“And look, I’m not sure, because I had my eyes shut, but I’m pretty sure he destroyed the awning of a market stall with his left side mirror. When I opened my eyes, there was part of a fish on the windshield. And, um, again, I can’t be sure, but I think we hit a couple of pedestrians. ..”
“Excuse me, Po! Sorry to interrupt you, sir! You said you wanted to report some bad and dangerous driving… could you please now get to that part…?”
How’s My Driving? You’re kidding, right? Because that’s the way everyone drives in Manila. All 22 million of them. And all at the same time. Essentially, to qualify as “a bad and dangerous driver”, you have to either run a packed school bus off a cliff, or drive into a petrol tanker at 150km/h and take out two city blocks. Everything else? All bets are off.
One good thing… our experiences in taxis, jeepneys and tricycles have brought us both a lot closer to God.