Once in a while, Murphy’s Law happens. To me, especially.
This time, it all started one bright Sunday morning.
The hubby and I just came from church, and were on our way to Capitol Commons to run errands before heading to a family lunch.We were coasting along C-5 when we were cut by a van; the violation stunned the hubby for a millisecond, which was all it took for us to miss our turn. He let out a small grunt and decided to let it go.
“The next turn might offer a better route, anyway.”
So we made sure not to miss the next corner, chatting away as we drove. He started telling me about how rowdy the boys were the previous day — he handles a judo class for kids on weekends — and I could see him getting all worked up as he recalled their antics, as if the class had just finished.
He was re-enacting a discussion with one of the boys when we made a left to Capitol Commons. As we did, we saw the lady traffic enforcer stationed right at the gate of the complex flailing her arms, and that was when our eyes landed on the huge “No Left Turn” sign at the corner. Whoops.
On the upside, the officer was straight as a barbecue stick, and very cautious, too. She instructed the hubby to stay in the car and not to take out his wallet but just to stick his driver’s license out the window. She also stopped him from pulling her clipboard with his ticket into the car; he had to put his arm out and sign the form in the light. A really good cop, this one.
On the downside, well, we got a ticket, there’s no need to explain that one.
Three days later…
The hubby had to be at work, so I got his authorization letter and ID and drove to the City Hall to pay the fine and get back his license. It took me a while to negotiate the traffic and even longer to park. The local government complex consists of several buildings spread across several blocks, with the parking building located right in the middle. I didn’t sleep well the previous night so I had to drag my feet three blocks to the TPMO.
When I got there, the first thing that the officer looked for was my community tax certificate. It was a requirement for the issuance of a receipt, he said. In all my thirty-nine years it was the first time I heard that, but what could a felon’s wife/representative do?
The community tax certificate could be obtained at the main City Hall building. Now if you were a Filipino you’d know that this predicament presented me the following options:
- Walk five blocks to the City Hall main building to get my community tax certificate — Declare I’m unemployed, pay ten pesos, done — and walk back to the TPMO to get the business over with. Thirty minutes, tops.
- Walk three blocks back to the parking building, drive home, get a copy of my latest income tax return, drive back to the parking building, walk two blocks to the City hall main building, have my community tax computed, pay the equivalent of a day’s salary, and walk five blocks back to the TPMO. I would likely finish this whole ordeal near the end of the day. Not to mention pay for parking twice.
I, of course, chose Option 2. How could I not?
I decided to have lunch and a bit of rest at home first — I was sooo sleepy, I could hardly think. So it was afternoon by the time I drove back to the City Hall, armed with my income tax return. I went through the whole routine as I had anticipated, and was walking to the TPMO again by 4:30 P.M. Finally!
But wait. There’s more.
Officer: Alam mo ba kung magkano babayaran mo? (Do you know how much you need to pay?)
Me: Ang sabi po yata sa amin five hundred? (I think we were told it’s five hundred?)
Officer: Two five, eto o. (It’s two thousand five hundred. Look, here it is.)
He pointed to a piece of paper with a hand-written list of fines, taped on his desk. And right there at the very top, it read: “No Left/Right Turn – 2,500.”
I checked my wallet though I already knew what I’d find: I had one thousand five hundred pesos, a thousand short of what I needed. By then it was 4:40 P.M., and the offices would close at five.
It took all my self-control not to get my hand through the tiny window of the counter, straight to the officer’s neck. With all my strength I took a deep breath, smiled and asked him to please, please wait for me, I would run to the nearest ATM to get cash. He said yes, but of course I didn’t believe him.
So I ran like there was no tomorrow. There was no way I was gonna go back there the following day. This had to end, this day.
I had to make a quick decision: Sprint three blocks to get to my car, find an ATM, drive back, park again and sprint back to the TPMO — in twenty minutes, during rush hour, in Metro Manila traffic (ahahaha I was kidding myself); or, hail a tricycle, hope for the best and let my fate rest on a road frenemy (If you’re not from Metro Manila, I would leave you to do your research on the havoc wreaked by tricycles). As if on cue, a tricycle did appear right in front of me as soon as I got to the TPMO gate. Yay!
The ride was horrendous, with the bumper-to-bumper traffic, the reckless driving, and the driver and his wife interrogating me and giving me a tip: to look for a certain “friend” of theirs from “inside” and get his “help” to lower my fine. Seriously.
But I somehow made it. With three minutes to spare!
I paid the fine, got the license back, and prayed I’d never have to go through something like that again.
Writing prompt, comedy of errors, courtesy of Promptly Written.