Saturday, September 29, 2007

You get what you pay for

My brother picked me up at the Detroit Metro Airport and immediately culture shock hit me full force. Everything moves so fast here. Yet, when we exited to the outside and stepped up to the marked pedestrian crossing area the fast moving cars came to an immediate stop for us. I'd forgotten its supposed to work like that.

Kevin grabbed my suitcase and in short order we entered an elevator for the parking garage. In seconds we were on the 6th level and at his car. No fuss, no muss. Without ever even seeing an attendant he paid at a little kiosk using a credit card and he did so before even climbing up into his 2007 Jeep. There was no waiting in line at all, not even a moment's hesitation to get out of the parking area. It seemed so unlikely.

Soon we were swooping our way around the airport looking for the right hiway exit. He missed the one he wanted, but no worries, he swooped back around in another loop and got into the correct lane this time. Even with the missed turn we were on the hiway heading home 5 minutes from the garage exit. That scenario is completely impossible in Manila where there is no uninterrupted "swooping" of any kind, where instead traffic moves in fits and starts. I'm trying to think of at least one advantage to this inefficient method of vehicular movement, but for the life of me nothings comes to mind.

He changed hiways several times during the hour and change trip north to my parents' place and it all happened so quickly that I lost track of exactly which stretch we were on. It was a good thing he was paying attention, or was he? A warning bell sounded and he casually commented that it was time to get some gas. Promptly, both of us forgot about it, so intent on chatting and "catching up" we were.

Only two miles from my old stomping grounds in Birch Run and my brother casually declares that we are out of gas. That's my brother, always understated and cool. Well, unless someone makes him mad, and that doesn't happen too often.

Putting it into neutral he let the Jeep coast along the shoulder, getting a full half mile of engineless travel. Now what? This isn't the Philippines where a trike or jeepney is always within hailing distance for hire.

Even better, he pulled out his cell and called information. He asked for a wrecker service close to the next exit and he was quickly connected. Soon help was on the way and in 15 minutes we were back on the road--minus the $55 dollar wrecker fee however. Things are more efficent here, but they are exponentially more expensive as well. Still, you get what you pay for.

Speaking of paying... I watched gallon after ring up on the pump and 23 gallons later his credit card was down another $65. I was beginning to feel guilty about him having to come out and get me. I need to buy him a couple steak dinners before I head back to my inefficient tropical wonderland.

Got to go... My grandson beckons!

11 comments:

Ed Abbey said...

Perhaps one advantage of the RP is that due to the gridlock, you have plenty of time before you get to the airport to say your goodbyes. Here in America post 9/11, you zoom right up to the unloading zone and have all of 30 seconds to say goodbye before the TSA agents shoo the driver away.

I enjoy reading your ex-pat views of coming to America. Definitely a new perspective for me.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Thanks Ed, and I'm just getting started on the "ex pat observations..."

Amadeo said...

And you're in Texas now. FortWorth, Texas, is the usual stop from California going to Detroit via US Airways.

I imagine that your observations will be much like mine when I first went back to the PI in 1987 after an absence of 7 years, except that everything was in reverse. HeHeHe.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Everything was in "reverse?"

Katana said...

how old is the grandson?

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hi Kat, he's 10 months old, good looking, smart, and a little dickens...

Katana said...

lol awesome!! He's almost at the age where he should drive his parents crazy!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Sure is... Can't turn your head for a second on the little guy...

Amadeo said...

Yes, Phil, in reverse. Suggesting that after getting used to the way things happen in the US, I had to get back and get used to the old ways of doing things.

For example, not only being aware of the perils of a pedestrian crossing a properly marked pedestrian line, but the crazy ways of driving in local traffic.

opass said...

Wow! Highways where you can actually feel like you're getting somewhere! Sure wish we had some of them here in the Philippines. Last week I had an appointment at the VA clinic in Manila so I took the free van out of Angeles. On the new expressway, resurfaced only last year... yeah THAT one! So we do just fine at about 100 kph or so and then have to wait one entire hour at the toll booth because construction there reduced the 10 lanes to two. Two! Kind of defeats the purpose of having an expressway if you have to wait an hour to exit. Phil, you're missing all the fun!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Amadeo, ok, now I get where you're coming from...

Opass, the 8 lanes out of 2 is just another case of "only in the Philippines." Being inconvenienced is acceptable to most there, no one complains but us big mouth foreigners, so naturally, nothing ever changes there. If a Filipino wants change, the just emigrate. What else CAN they do? ...grin... We, after all, are retired with plenty of time on our hands, so what the heck, bring a good book and let the driver handle it... neh?