04 March 2007

Shoes on the other foot

IN TRAVELING between Naga and Manila nowadays, it pays to bring along a bottle of water, some crackers, a sandwich, a choco bar or anything that can tide you over both expected and unexpected delays.

Put the ongoing reblocking all throughout the 90-plus kilometers-long Quirino (now Andaya) Highway in the "expected delays" column, creating pockets of one-way traffic along the way. This repair work has become an interminable feature of that diversion road, a quicksand to our tax money, and a monument to the DPWH's tremendous capacity for consistently shoddy construction.

Our trip last night until this morning lost two hours to a stalemate between some unknown arrogant drivers who refused to give way to one another, creating a monstrous jam. Opportunistic drivers -- mostly of private cars, jeepneys and vans -- who broke the line, took the other lane and tried to race ahead only made things worse.

Woe to a passenger who unexpectedly wakes up as traffic starts to build up, fails to go back to sleep the rest of the way, and suddenly finds himself provisionless throughout the entire ordeal.

The airconditioning system, already at "low" setting, became so unforgiving I had to put my moccasin shoes on in the dark and get off the bus from time to time. At one point, I felt some stubborn dirt had built up on their soles and no amount of scraping against the bus stepboard would tear them away.

Only when dawn came that I realized I had mixed them up; literally, each shoe was on the other foot.