July 29, 2014

There's a new epidemic sweeping through the country. Authorities have not been able to provide us with the scientific name but early reports have been referring to it as, 'convenientitis.' It can strike anyone, at any time, but motorists have been singled out as among the highest risk groups.

Security forces around the city have been put on red alert and are under strict orders to keep motorists and the general public away from anything convenient.  At any cost. Already, there have been numerous victims that have fallen through the cracks, but the authorities have vowed to stop this. “If it makes your life easier, or it seems perfectly logical, we will stop at nothing to reverse it”, said security supervisor, Lang Alam, during a private conversation with

“Take our local malls as a start. They are riddled with conveniences; like that parking bay closest to the car park escalators. This has to be blocked for no good reason.” Alam remarked, while pointing to a prime, vacant basement parking spot in a flashy Makati mall that had been blocked by an orange cone. And I can attest. While celebrating the VIOS Cup last Sunday at a bar at the Holiday Inn in Clark, I proceeded to park in a dedicated parking spot right by the entrance. In fact, all 8 slots were empty. Thankfully I was stopped by a security guard who told me to move my car to a distant open car park on the other side of the hotel and walk in the rain, otherwise I could have mistakenly parked there and exposed myself to this ‘convenientitis!'

But it is not just the malls. Traffic enforcers have joined forces and sworn to protect the city and its citizens from convenientitis. “Certain parts of Ayala and Makati were becoming high risk when we started putting pedestrian underpasses. This led to a more steady flow of traffic, especially during peak times, which alarmed us.” Capt Mulching explained to me as he flagged down one annoyed motorist that was almost exposed to commercial grades of convenience when he made it from one traffic light to another without having to dodge anything. “This why we place enforcers in the middle of intersections to contradict the traffic lights above, or park our patrol vehicles along busy thoroughfares so that cars have to go around it, to demonstrate the effect of the rule that we are breaking.” Mulching concluded confidently.

And it’s not just the physical convenience we’re trying to avoid. There’s the mental side too that is just as dangerous.

“Take Buendia, Reposo and Pasong Tamo as an example. We tried changing the name to Gil Puyat,  N. Garcia and Chino Roces, etc., but everybody keeps referring to them by their old ones. We are really pushing for people to use the new names so that we can change it again.” A semi high ranking city official was quoted saying in an off-the-record press conference.

“The dedicated motorcycle lanes have also been very effective.” added another officer, Manthli Tong, as he ran across two lanes to apprehend a rider that had ‘swerved’ off the blue lines, all while ignoring the  80 foot bus in front of him that was parked diagonally across three lanes loading and unloading passengers.

And now they want to help the private sector. “If you are a business owner, large or small, don't fret; you can safeguard your customers from ever getting any exposure to convenientitis. We have a crack unit that can take care of all your special needs.” Alice Kadjan, chairperson of the RSPCA committee. (The Royal Society for Prevention of Convenience to Anyone)  “This includes providing and training the security guard that will wait for you to switch your engine off and hop out of your car before telling you that you can't park there.” Ms Kadjan added. “Or, if you own a mall or a building with multiple street access, we can close all but one and actually assign somebody at each point to tell people to ‘use the other entrance’ to make sure nobody benefits from the convenience of the closer entrance or exit. Or assist you in making sure that your public toilets remain locked.” she continued excitedly.

Mixed reports are coming in, but the general message is: we (the security guards and traffic aides) are taking no chances. “If a parking place is too close to your destination, or the building or village entrance closest to where you're going is open, we will make sure we close it!”  Traffic officer, Bawal Jan, said in closing. “Supermarkets and banks have been doing this successfully for years now! You line up patiently and there is only ever one teller available. Even if there are five or six counters only one or two will ever be opened!”

Anyone who has been exposed to convenience has been urged to contact the authorities immediately. Some of the few known effects of this disease includes sudden loss of headaches; reduced travel times and increased productivity. “People underestimate this disease.” One security guard said nervously. “It is deadly! For us... If too many people catch it, we will be out of a job!”

About the Author

James Deakin
James Deakin is a multi-awarded automotive journalist located in Manila, Philippines. He has a weekly column in the Philippine STAR's motoring section, is a motoring corespondent for CNN Philippines and is the host of the Philippine motoring television show Drive, which airs every Sunday night at 10pm on CNN Philippines.