• Passing on the torch

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    Last week, I dropped by my sister’s house to say hi. I haven’t dropped by her house for a while, and besides saying hi and playing with the dogs, I usually forage through her kitchen to see what’s there. Usually she bakes cookies and leaves them on the kitchen counter. It’s nice to have a sister who knows how to cook and keeps her ref and cookie jars stocked up. It’s easier for me to make sure none of those goes to waste. And if I am lucky enough, I get a chance to take some home with me. The things you have to do for family…

    Anyway, while I was there I found out that my brother-in-law has been teaching my niece how to drive. And she has been around the village a couple of times. I kind of realized that this was not the baby girl I used to put to take care of. This is a teenager very excited to learn how to drive. Wow! I must have blinked a couple of times and missed something. Since it was a Sunday, she asked her dad if he would allow her to drive around the village. Her dad said yes, “but let your Uncle King Kong go with you.” Pause…. a decade ago if I she was left with me, I would be tasked to take care of her, feed her, give her a bath, change her diaper, put her to sleep… all those baby sitting things that you are supposed to do. Now it’s teaching her how to drive. Note to self: yes David, they don’t stay babies forever. They also grow up. That means you’re also getting older. In fairness to my niece, we got back to the house without scratching her dad’s car. Although I would prefer she learn how to drive a manual and a van. For me, if you could learn how to maneuver a van and parallel park it, you can drive any car.

    Spending time letting my niece drive made me question some of my driving habits. Yes you see a newbie driver making mistakes and you try to correct them. But with me, who is there to correct me or tell me that I did something wrong? I recently upgraded my non-pro license to a pro-license. During the exam, I realized to two things: one, I realized how bad my Tagalog was – it was very, very bad; two, I realized that I needed to read the driving rules again. Yes, read the driving rulebook again. Even though I may have been driving for almost 30 years (ouch!), I think it would be helpful, or should I say necessary. I admit that I questioned myself during the exam if my answers were correct. Never mind the direct translation from English to Tagalog. Who is to say that we, the drivers, are always right? Years of experience? Ourselves? Or is it our ego?

    Yes, there are people in the Land Transportation Office who we say are not really qualified to dispense the gospel of its office. But that doesn’t mean that we should say that we are better than them and we allow ourselves do what we think is correct. I am guilty of such actions. A bigger thing here is when we teach newer drivers, aren’t we in danger of teaching them our bad driving habits or driving attitude if we can’t or don’t want to re-clarify our knowledge of the driving laws? We hear of airline pilots being recertified every so often to make sure they are competent to fly a particular aircraft. When they make a mistake, they get hit big time. For us mere mortals, we only take the test once for driving a car. But when get behind the wheel of a 1,000-kilogram car and drive at 60 kilometers per hour, we don’t think much about. But 1,000-kg car going 60 kph can do a lot of damage when it hits another car. What more if we hit a pedestrian? Yes, we always say that the other people are not that disciplined, but how many times have looked at ourselves and ask are we that disciplined?

    My niece has asked me to go driving again with her… as a senior driver with more time behind the wheel, I think I should be more aware of how to conduct myself as a driver – keeping a cool head and trying to respect even the simplest safety driving laws.

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