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Road rage and our destructive self-importance

There is real danger in thinking others are beneath you

The way we sometimes react to even the smallest things on the road is truly over the top. IMAGE FROM MARVEL STUDIOS

Surely, you’ve seen that viral video in which a supposedly educated otolaryngologist (a doctor specializing in the treatment of diseases affecting one’s ears, nose and throat) is trying to use all the vulgar words in his vocabulary just to insult a van driver who clearly isn’t reciprocating his aggression. Worse, the man being vociferously attacked has his wife and children with him in the vehicle, and even the missus isn’t spared from the livid physician’s verbal abuse.

’Tang ina mo! Operator ka lang!

Tumahimik ka!

Ang dumi-dumi mo!

Wala akong pakialam sa ‘yo!

All of this because, according to the aggressor himself, the other guy wouldn’t give way when he tried to merge into the latter’s lane.

Now, let’s all be honest here: We have all ‘killed’ someone in our head while driving. We have all berated another motorist under our breath and inside our locked cabin. We have all silently wished we had Bruce Banner’s alter ego to take matters into his green, brawny hands.

And yes, some of us have gone as far as to roll down the window and give the other road user a menacing stare—perhaps even the middle finger. But we don’t really go out there to literally harass and humiliate an entire family over a minor traffic incident. You only do that to people who have absolutely no worth in your eyes. Which was exactly how the enraged ENT doctor regarded his victims.

Put the above-mentioned angry words under a microscope and you will see a fundamental problem: The person who uttered them truly believed he was better, higher in status, and more important than the individuals he was screaming at. That he even made a point to ridicule the L300 van they were riding is proof of his superiority complex. I have no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t have dared pull off his antics on anyone driving a BMW (heck, maybe even a Hyundai).

Even those who aren’t rich by Gretchen Barretto’s standards think so low of others that they expect the latter to scamper out of the way in their presence

That, friends, is the root cause right there. Even car owners who aren’t rich by Gretchen Barretto’s standards think so low of others—especially PUV drivers—that they expect the latter to scamper out of the way in their presence. They believe they have a bigger claim to the road just because they live in gated communities and have white-collar jobs that pay monthly salaries the hoi polloi can only fantasize about.

I now remember the great Conrado de Quiros, whom I once asked to drive a Mercedes-Benz SUV for a week and write about the whole experience. In the masterpiece he submitted, he narrates an instance in which he got impatient and somewhat pissed because a cart-pushing scavenger was blocking his path. Irate, he was about to blow his horn when he noticed that the boy was actually “pushing with all his might, anxious to get out of my way.” A sense of embarrassment promptly descended upon him:

My hand froze over the horn pad, and I braked the Mercedes-Benz M-Class to a full stop. I realized with much shame that by all the traffic rules of heaven and earth, he had the right of way.

This is not to say you should tolerate all the recklessness that uneducated drivers are known for. It’s just an appeal to be more charitable toward those who have less in life and are indeed beneath you in rank and fortune. Because one day, you’ll cross paths with a Patek-wearing douchebag in a Lamborghini who will pompously laugh at your financed Fortuner and pathetic TAG Heuer.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.