General Admission

Discipline abroad but not here

By Al S. Mendoza


IN Sydney and Auckland, the major cities from Deep Down Under, they have this so-called 12 Demerits system.

It is a traffic scheme that catches road law violators through cameras placed in streets and highways.

Danny Isla, migrating to Auckland last year, e-mailed me a newspaper story about an 18-year-old male being charged $1,000-plus for accumulated traffic fines.

For one year, the kid was never late in office even for a single day.

Turns out he was over-speeding with his car each time he drove to his office.

He ignored the traffic notices sent to his house, thus the accumulated fines.

“His license was revoked,” said Danny.  “It will take him some time before he could be issued one again.”

His 12 Demerits were exhausted as each traffic infraction would mean a two-point deduction.

Once you consumed all 12 Demerits, your license is automatically recalled.

That holds true in Sydney.

“You could even be jailed here if you continuously violate traffic laws,” said Mon Acebes, the Batanes-born hubby of Becks de Leon from M. De La Fuente Sta. Mesa, Manila.

While we are left-hand drive here, it is right-hand drive in Australia and New Zealand.

I tried driving for the first time in Melbourne in 1992.  I wasn’t even two kilometers away from my hotel when I pulled over.

I almost got wrecked by a speeding train head-on.

Why, because instead of turning left, I turned right—directly toward the direction of an oncoming train.

I avoided the express train in the nick of time.

In 1998, I also tried to drive in Auckland.  Same experience.  I couldn’t reconcile the switch of wheels.  Almost, I got hit, this time, by a runaway bus.

Even while walking on the streets for the first time, I got disoriented in Sydney most of the time.

Even if this was my sixth visit already in the land of the iconic Opera House at Darling Harbour.

SM?  As in Smiley Moments?

I just smile away the glitches.  A surefire trick to lick slips.

You look left when crossing a street both in Sydney and Auckland.  Not right.  Confusing at the start.

Even on escalators, stay left.  Not right.

On lifts (elevators), stand left before the door opens.

When boarding a train in their always-precise subway system, stand left and board left.  Never right.

When I got home, the first few days, I kept staying left of the escalator.  Baliktad!

But you know what?  Escalators here have signs to remind shoppers to stand right.

That’s to allow those wanting to overtake you using the left side of the escalator.

But no.  The reminders are ignored.  Repeatedly.

Indeed, only in the Philippines.

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