Step In Their Shoes

 We call them stupid, litterbugs, lazy, morons, dumb, a**hole and any other names that may not be even found in the dictionary. Sometimes we call them just insensitive. But aren’t we? This week is one of the stressful weeks for me. Stress that comes from all sort of factors that even I wonder if I should be caring about it in the first place.

There’s the pressure from work that is a mixture of delivery and people management. People who seem not to work and don’t understand what is expected from them.

There’s the tricycle driver who drives like as if there’s no tomorrow and would be so willing to include you in their death wish.

There’s the jeepney driver who would intentionally park in front of a No Park Zone to spend time to wait for passengers despite knowingly causing a traffic jam right behind them. And the irony of it all is that it is in front of a traffic police or enforcer who looks like they have the worst case of cataract that blinds them of an ongoing violation.

There’s the homeowner who refuses to pay his dues because he feels that he is not obligated to do so and who would sometimes reason out that he has problems with finances but you’d find him smoking packs of cigarettes a day and would see his house lit brightly with Christmas lights and decors.

There’s the loan processor who doesn’t seem to extend a bit of customer care by giving advice to the applicant that his car loan application is sitting stagnant in his inbox for quite some time due to the lack of one simple signature.

And there are the street scavengers who would open up garbage bags and throw away its content in search of recyclables and never even caring to fix it back thus creating an eye sore in the process.

Sheesh. The list goes on.

So today, while on a day off I keep reflecting what must have gone wrong for me to suffer such stress. I can’t find any reason except that I too have been busy or that I could have been too self-centered or that I just lack  empathy.

Merriam-Webster defines empathy as”noun, the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

Ouch! I never knew Merriam-Webster could inflict such slap in the face. I only experience such guilt during mass’ homilies. Understanding. Being aware of. Being sensitive to. Such words played in mind just as caffeine would do to my bloodstream. It kept me awake, restless and uneasy.

Well, I have come up to some realization on my stress list. There must be a reason for each.

Just imagine not having eaten for quite a while and the only hope you’ve got is to pick and sell items at the junk shop in order for you to take your first meal after a couple of days. And with the other man inside the bus hating you just because you to failed to keep the street clean.

Imagine if you have to juggle payroll, separation payments and loan applications. Some want their last pay and another one badly wants a new car.

Imagine if you have got a really sick kid at home and the only way to buy those medicines is to work double time by either driving a tricycle or a jeepney and optimize its capacity even with the risk of getting apprehended by a police officer. And one of your passengers is just thinking of traffic laws and having to get to the mall to kill time.

Sometimes the world would be such better place if we stop thinking just all about us. Sometimes we need to understand why people act the way they do. With this we might be able to extend our help or at least lessen a bit of our expectations and in effect lessen the stresses in our lives. Sometimes we just have to step in their shoes.

****

P.S. I just can’t find any reason why a homeowner won’t pay their dues when in fact they are getting the benefits of the village funds. Ti abi.

 

Driving with Wifey (My First Blog, Actually)

(I was browsing my multiply.com site and saw this one hidden. Then I remember, this is my first shot at doing a blog. Since I’ve also posted this in our company’s internal site, I deleted its name here. (hint: Only the paranoid survive). Some of the practices in this blog though may not be true anymore. Rest assured, I still respect the pedestrian lanes.)

I like walking around our company’s campus a lot. Why? Because it is here where most drivers abide by the speed limits placed on designated lanes. It is also where both drivers and passengers are strictly required to wear seat belts; and where motorists patiently wait for the pedestrians to safely cross the street before they proceed driving. In the Philippines, this is almost too ideal if not unreal.

Day in day out, this practice goes on inside this pedestrian-friendly campus. Lately though, I’ve observed that the gates seem to look like a pit lane’s entrance and exit. The former is where speeding employees would brake to follow minimum speed; the latter is where outgoing employees would rev their engines and hit the gas and dash to their destinations like F1 drivers. I even once wondered if these gates are warp zones that zap drivers into entirely different worlds.

Frankly, I was guilty of this act, too. I’ve been driving back and forth for almost one and a half year already. I admit I drove like hell outside the campus during the first year. It is a good thing that our company had this online Defensive Driving course which I took and passed. Still, I continue to drive aggressively but just more cautious than before—I would mentally count thousand one, thousand two, thousand three…to estimate my distance from the car in front of mine. At least.

Then time came for my wife to learn how to drive. I became her boot-camp coach whenever she drives us to and from work. However, despite my conscious effort to lecture her on the proper and safe way to drive, it was always a matter of time when we would end the driving sessions in frustration. This made me reflect and assess why.

Then it struck me. I have been a believer that good teachers make equally good students and it was through this series of driving that made me realize that I could be a (big) factor why wifey made me feel uneasy being strapped beside her as a passenger. It was a case of bad teacher, bad student. How can I expect her to follow what I am teaching if she does not see me doing most of it. Practice what you preach, right?

It is now almost two weeks already since I have been driving defensively. This time there is not much mad honking, lesser unnecessary overtaking, more consideration, and improved courtesy. For those who do not know yet, it feels good all the time.

And guess what? Just this weekend my wife was on the wheel from our home to our favorite hang-out, almost 20 kilometers away and she did perfectly well, almost perfect until it was time to park. But then again, nobody’s perfect. She’s currently grounded. Just kidding.