Opinion: On Drinking, and Driving

Image credit: http://www.passenlaw.com, http://thesixthward.blogspot.com

I start this piece by first going back half a decade or so, back when I was still in high school. I studied in a pretty nice Christian school, located in a plot of land that someone used to grow mangos on. The teachers were great, the chicks were hot, and there even was an automotive class offered!

The catch is, I was the only Muslim dude in the batch. Every time there was a batch party – organized ostensibly to celebrate the end of compulsory education, if that was really worth throwing a bash for – I ended up being quite out of place. So OP that the post office has had to establish a new zip code for me.

Why? Quite simple: I don’t drink.

I think other teetotallers can relate to me at this point. You’re as bored as hell, drinking your carbonated softdrink, while the rest of these jokers are suddenly laughing at what little inanity this one dude says, as if he was Richard Pryor reincarnate. And you, the guy with a brain devoid of a buzz, join in the laughter, while internally you dedicate some of your brain’s processing power in figuring out where the punchline is.

And when the party starts to wind down, you end up being the designated driver. Which isn’t so bad, since you get to drive hot drunk chicks back to their houses. Though the risk of them puking all over the back seat was always a clear and ever-present danger.

My mother had a GK Tuscani, and I swiped it to go to one of these parties. As I was driving off to go home, one of my batchmates, to grab my attention so that he can say “Nice car”, decides to shout, “Hey JAHANNN!” And as if I was as catatonic as he was, to make sure I really noticed him, he kicks the driver’s side door quite hard.

“WTF, dude, this is my mom’s car!” I hollered.

Ganda ng oto mo, Jahan!” he responded. And he walked off, probably to get more wasted. Thankfully, there was no indentation from whatever sole he had on. My mother would have crapped a concrete hollow block otherwise.

You may think I’m griping, but truth be told, I’ve had a lot of fun at the expense of people’s drunkenness. Even though I do not subscribe to the life choice of alcohol consumption, I respect people’s right to make an ass of themselves in social occasions. Alcohol is the grease that lubricates the Filipino social mechanism. From tambays chugging down gin, to technocrats downing jello shots, there isn’t an occasion where alcohol can be done without. And plus, where else can sedate people get to loosen up, and the noisy, boisterous people get even noisier and more boisterous?

So wild that they sometimes get physical. Tabloids are peppered with incidents of drinking sessions where people end up killing themselves dead with assorted weapons of the bladed and projectile variety. Probably because of some silly petty thing, ignited by a case of pale pilsen, brown flasks of elixir removing fear, inhibition, and sentido kumon.

Others die drunk in car accidents. I don’t have to drink to learn of other’s mishaps when on the booze. Just type “drunk driving accident” on Google, click on “images”, turn SafeSearch off, and prepare to be horrified.

Remember the incident where underage kids snuck their dad’s new Hyundai Elantra to go out joyriding, horribly crashed sideways on a concrete post, killing themselves in the process? It has been suggested by people in automobile message boards that the kids, or the driver at least, were drunk at the time of the accident, but news reports are silent in this. I hate to conjecture, but where else would four teens come home from at 4AM in the morning? Well, a late-night group Bible study perhaps.

But then again, some other forumers think it was the safety design of the car, or the lacking thereof, that screwed these boys over. Yeah, it’s Hyundai’s fault.  The Korean car company has failed to invent and install the breathalyser-cum-engine-immobilizer across its model range.

But in all seriousness, my deepest sympathies to the families of these young boys. This is a tragedy that I wouldn’t ask to happen to my worst enemy, much less anyone. To me, the automobile is an instrument of freedom and mobility, not a device of death and despair. Consumers like me can be, for the most part, assured that these ideals are not a mere fancy. Both manufacturers and regulatory bodies have strived to improve motoring safety for the masses. Massive strides over the decades have improved crash safety in modern cars, even to the point of protecting pedestrians, systems that automatically brake when there is a risk of collision, and so on. But no car manufacturer can AutoCAD the loose nut behind the wheel. Especially a thoroughly soused nut.

There’s always that popular adage, “don’t drink and drive.” But what if you find yourself completely hammered at a bar someplace and don’t have someone to bring you and your car back home? A popular motoring journalist has spearheaded a service, to be run by an emergency services provider, where for a reasonable sum, one call to the latter’s hotline would summon a designated driver to drive your hooptie and your drunk ass to your abode.

I guess it’s a great idea. But you know what’s a better idea? Not drinking. At all.

I don’t see why alcohol isn’t treated like how cigarettes are. Cigarettes cause lung cancer, sure, but they don’t make people do stupid things with cars, knives, guns, fists, and the broken container they come with. Tobacco companies are heavily restricted in advertising their brands, while the liquor people have the legal right to show bawdy commercials, family drinking sessions, and other polished debauchery. These TVC’s end up corrupting fragile minds like mine, and yet the government only makes them show a “Drink Moderately” message at the end. And for like a millisecond at that.

I could iterate the physiological, societal, and moral ills that alcohol consumption brings forth to the populace. But I’m sure that whatever I’d say won’t sway many. I was thinking of writing my congressman to propose the banning the sale and consumption of alcohol. But I won’t bother, as the Congress is already busy deliberating the increase of the rate of taxation on “sin products” like alcohol. I don’t care much about the increased tax on these items, primarily because I neither drink nor smoke. What I do mind is the misplaced rationale for the tax hike. They want to increase “sin taxes” because of improved revenue generation for the national coffers. I’m like, you should be taxing people higher to dissuade them from drinking and making asses and murderers of themselves!

Honestly, I think that we should really, seriously consider banning alcohol in this country. Distilleries nationwide will close, millions of Filipinos will go thirsty. A black market will rise, clandestine sills at remote locations will be made. Establishments will have backrooms where people can booze together in secret.

Since there is a geographical distance from sill to store, and being contraband, transport of the hooch would be a perilous affair. The drivers must be willing to risk both lay of land and the law, and in the process develop driving skills to evade the Prohibition patrol. Unassuming vehicles will be souped up for the rapid and sneaky movement of alkyhawl. Then, when Filipinos worldwide will find the gumption to EDSA IV on my ass and overthrow the alcohol ban, these skilled drivers will eventually find use of their moonshining skills to find gainful employment, like in motor racing, perhaps.

So yeah, ban alcohol, and you’ll create a country of NASCAR drivers. I think it’s an awesome idea. Let me know what a callous and out-of-touch douchebag I am on the comment facilities below or via our Contact page.

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