Sunday, June 26, 2005

Happy Accidents

I was once told I was the kindest person he has ever met, this from a middle-aged man who has lived on three continents. I have no reason to believe he was pulling my leg as he stood nothing to gain from it. So, it is quite strange how I’m always in dumbfounded disbelief each time I receive similar acts of kindness from virtual strangers. Perhaps this attests to how many times I’ve been let down by my own family and friends, which has led to my suspicious and pessimistic view of people in general. One would think that it is a dog-eat-dog world out there. And for the most part, maybe it is. Nothing leads me to believe otherwise, except for a miniscule number of happy accidents.

If you live in the general area of Metropolitan Manila, you will remember it raining hippos and elephants last Friday night. I had to pick my Mum up in Ortigas at around seven-thirty in the evening. Seeing as all roads out of Ortigas Center were full of vehicles-in-the-religious-icon-of-your-choice-procession, we tried our luck heading to C5. Ever since my mother realized her daughter has grown up, we took advantage of the alone-time to discuss things both mundane (as in, the latest celebrity gossip) and profound (as in, what a shit-hole we live in these days what can we do about it).

Being an excellent, if slow, driver, I found a relatively fast lane behind a humungous trailer truck loaded with an equally humungous part of what one would assume was a water pipe. *Cue in virtual collage of Manila Water and Maynilad maintenance repairs all over the metro.*

As various vehicles in front of us made their turns and changes of lane, we found ourselves directly behind the trailer truck, enjoying the relatively undisturbed space behind it as other motorists scrambled to get out of its way. I made sure to leave approximately a 5-meter distance between the truck’s tail and my hood. “So, do you think its Gloria on the tapes?” “No doubt, heck, how can one mistake her distinctive voice for anybody else’s?” “What’s your take on all this crap?” “My take on it is; it doesn’t matter who places his or her ass in Malacañang. It won’t change a thing. It’s the system that needs changing.”

A dark gray car made an audacious bid for my comfy position behind the trailer. Since it was drizzling, we were crawling, and I was last-workday tired, I let the other car slip in front of me. “This dumb jerk is tailing a tad too close.” Mum and I snickered. “If the truck were too back up even just a little, this guy’s bumper is a goner.” *Snicker some more.*


If you’ve had your share of car mishaps, the sound and feel of metal grinding metal is unmistakable. I glanced up at my rearview mirror. True enough, a car has mowed into my rear bumper. Great. With reluctance I got out of the car and in the rain. If you’re a female driver, then you know that in circumstances such as this, it is prudent to put on an extra-aggressive scowl on your face to compensate for having extra mounds of flesh on your chest.

“Sir, I wasn’t even moving!” “I know, I am so sorry, my pregnant wife is having stomach pains and my attention wasn’t fully on the road.” Wow. I was prepared to slug it out with whatever punk/asshole the other driver might’ve turned out to be. His instant apology and acceptance of liability caught me off-guard. “Well ok, could I see your ID please?” We exchanged ID cards and contact numbers. “I would offer to pay you now but I’ve no cash on me. If you like we could pass by an ATM.” I looked at the dent on the right side of my bumper. “But sir, I can’t really make an estimate of how much it would take to have this repaired.” Well-meaning motorists passing us were now shouting various suggestions and complaints. “Ok, maybe we can meet tomorrow to settle this. Just give me a call.” “Alright.” And that was it. No more than 5 minutes of drizzly settlement.

I got back on the car and took note of his license plate. My Mum looked at me with expectation. “He said to call him later.” Belatedly I remembered I had a camera on the backseat. “I should’ve taken photos. I should’ve asked for a letter from him, admitting his liability. If that’s a bogus number he gave, we’re fucked (Well, you don’t really say ‘fucked’ to your mother, think of a suitable Tagalog translation – except the K word!).” The rest of the drive home was quiet. My Mum tried the cellphone number, sure enough someone picked up. “He said he’ll call our landline at home.”

True enough the expectant father kept to his word and met with me the day after. At the moment my bumper is being repaired in an auto-shop near his neighborhood in Pasig. I suppose, if you’re named Honesto, it is sacrilege not to live up to your parents’ expectations.

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