Be nice on the road


Written on 1/29/2005 02:19:00 pm by sikapitan

The brutal death of Muhammad Nazri Ismail to a couple of road bullies certainly put things into perspective. It is a senseless death (if there ever was a sensible one) that makes you sick to the core. I’m not getting all emotional over him, though I do feel bad for his young family. We may never know the true account of what happened. It’s just that it makes me wonder about my own attitude and Malaysians in general when it comes to driving.

Teenagers nowadays carry with them more stress than ever before, ranging from peer pressure to pursuing academic excellence. Parents are coping with teenagers dealing with stress, which in turn leads THEM to become depressive. Adults carrying stress from home deal with other adults which causes even more tension. It comes to the point that every one is stressed out over one thing or another, and nothing reflects this more than when we drive. We vent out our frustration on the road. Some crave the quick fix adrenaline gives and drive like they’re trying to be Alex Yoong II (I don’t know why since Alex owes the government like millions of OUR money). Some prefer the relaxing nature of cruising like a tortoise. Others honked like its Mardi Gras while some like to cut lanes. I don’t know what’s going on in other countries, but I noticed that you can get the whole gamut of drivers just by cruising down the Federal Highway. Just yesterday I met with the typical Ah-Beng souped up Honda tearing down the highway, the blurry college girl going 60 on an 80 highway, the “You young kids don’t know how to drive-I’m always right” makciks and mak datins, the “I’m so busy I’ve to do my business over phone in the car while staying in the middle of the road” exec type, and of course the ever lovable Mat Rempits.

Malaysians seem to have vastly different attitudes when it comes to driving with sometimes the most basic principle cannot be agreed on. For example, I’ve come across some guy who rear-ended another car claiming it was that car’s fault to brake so suddenly, without realizing the cardinal rule of driving- maintain a safe distance. It is this attitude, perhaps easily simplified as “kiasu” but it goes much deeper than merely being selfish, that causes so many misunderstanding on the road. And when there’s a misunderstanding, the whole stressed-out mentality takes over. We go ballistic when someone says “Tapi awak tak bagi signal”. Maybe because we have so much pent-up anger inside of us that we decide that enough’s enough, and usually it’s during accidents that the can pops open.

I am not an angel on the road, but nor am I a devil (but a Red Devil nonetheless ;). I honk sometimes, I have cut one too many lanes, I have driven way way over the speed limit, and when I’m frustrated I like to pretend the road’s like those old arcade games where you just drive faster than anyone else down a straight road and overtake all these slower cars and a couple of rocks (man, I used to love that shit). I do play my music a wee bit too loud (close to Ah Beng-like, but with way cooler music :), and I have pointed one or two fingers along the way. I am short-tempered, and that’s what makes me fearful. This incident just highlights the point that someday you’ll just show a wrong finger to the wrong person, or honked at the wrong monster, or glared at the wrong taiko at the wrong time.

I must learn how to chill out. Sometimes I do manage to do so, especially if there’s some cool chill out music coming out from the stereo (Zero 7 is a good bet), and let things just slide. I let that guy cut my lane while paying the toll, I smiled when some dude turned without signaling, I put up my hand in understanding when someone take eons to parallel park. But the instances are much too infrequent to suggest that I’m calm on the road. I should be. It could save my life.

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