Monday, October 29, 2007

Whose line is it anyway?

I felt like that day went on forever.

Last week, I had to go to all these government offices to get different documents.
And boy oh boy, was I in for one heck of an afternoon.
There were lines that felt like they would never ever end.
From the line to get the application/renewal forms, the line for payments, down to line where all you have to do is wait for your request to be released. Each line was like one constant challenge after another.
Lines that zigged and zagged and looped and looked impossibly, seriously crazy.
I don't understand why people's heads don't just explode from the lack of order.
No wonder Filipinos are considered tolerant people.

In the city hall, all documents have to paid for at the cashier's office at the second floor. From the twenty thousand peso transactions to the twenty peso fees, you all end up falling into one line that apparently can stretch unto infinity (i kid you not. I can go on and on about this and still be dumbfounded at how long these lines can get).

Anyway, it's a good lesson in practicing (or in my case, learning) the virtue of patience. Except for the fact that I can totally feel the guy behind me almost rubbing up against me (not because he wants to, but because another dude is rubbing up against him!), which is supposed to nudge me a few centimeters forward. Not a pretty site I tell you. And when we finally get into the area inside the cashier's office, (the line starts to snake around just when you go up the stairs and reaches all through the hall) the "snake" breaks off into four or five mini "snakes' (depending on which cashier unceremoniously decides to take a break). But this fact won't really be evident when you reach the door, God only knows how people figure it out. So on one end, you got this loooong line and then you got these small lines ahead which people don't really notice til they've gotten tired of watching other people pass them by.

But just to give you an idea of Philippine politics at its simplest, this police guy comes in and starts talking to this clerk on break. The clerk is counting a thick wad of cash and obviously balancing his books. But the police dude kept badgering him about his fees. Of course everyone is honed in on what is transpiring and I could totally see a big mad rush of people miraculously appearing behind the police guy once the clerk decides to do business. But as if that weren't bad enough, the cashier announces (like he's probably done it a million times before) that he's not really opening his lane, he just needs to help out Mr. Stereotypically-corrupt-and-lazy-police Guy because he has more important things to do than fall in line unlike you mere mortal citizens.

It's bad enough that they can't protect us from criminals, harass us in traffic and instill seeping fear whenever they approach us anywhere, but to get ahead like that so blatantly, with such audacity, is one of the major reasons which makes me want to live the rest of my life elsewhere.
I mean, I used to be a pretty crazy driver, which is probably why I get the creeps whenever I see a traffic cop near my ride. But the cops abroad just didn't have that same "I-might-plant-something-on-you" vibe as the ones we have over here.

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