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At the grocery, I find myself back again in my favorite lane, the Senior’s Expressway. It’s a fun space really; and if others were looking, they’d note that most of us appear to be on downers. It’s almost as if we’re engaged in a strange and cinematic slow-mo that’s almost surreal to behold. From deftly putting the goodies on the counter to taking out our senior identification cards and booklet for presentation, our tai chi movement is peaceful, compared to other lanes beside ours where, people below sixty impatiently jostle and struggle for their turn to be served.

Once in a while, the cashier would pause to remind some younger people who wander in our lane to transfer to other lines as ours is exclusive for seniors, pregnant women and persons with disabilities. I guess that’s okay if it happens once or twice, but when it becomes obvious that people ignore the ruling, the red flags of China in my head start their crazy banner dance.

The same thing happens on the road, I was in my friend’s car one weekend when the vehicle in front of us suddenly, without signaling, makes a sharp left turn in a “No Left Turn” corner. Reacting to our sudden braking, a hand comes out of the driver side as if to say, “my bad, so what!” as the driver nonchalantly zooms away. I’m thinking, let’s just hope that’s no emergency and he just simply needs to go to the men’s room.

One would think that in this year 2024, where a new and stricter speed limit has become the norm and fines on traffic violations have increased like the price of petrol, commuters and those driving would be more mature. Even as we have signs everywhere, they are generally ignored. No parking, no loading and unloading, no left turn and many others, they appear to be just there for show. I have seen pedestrians ignore crossing lanes like they didn’t exist. However, they’re careful though, looking first to the left then right, but not to check for vehicles. They are watching out for traffic enforcers who might apprehend them for jaywalking. And so it goes. I’m wondering, if a sign warned of a hole in the ground, how many do you think would fall in?

For a country that prides itself as being 90 or more percent literate, reading and comprehending what’s written on traffic signs seems to be a big problem. In contrast, as one goes home in the evening, it’s so common to see people with LED-lit faces snug and quiet inside public vehicles. Come to think of it, perhaps social media, with its many Tik-tok videos, movies and images, is a far more preferable form of reading that is supposedly rich in dopamine too. I guess that explains what I noticed inside one Fortuner, a small screen on the dashboard showcasing the latest K-pop moves. Or have you heard of a jeepney in Manila, complete with a TV and karaoke machine inside for commuters.


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