I feel the need to have a word with you. Call me the old guard trying to tell you off, I could care less. But you know what? I get it. I’m not even here to stop you because I know I can’t.
I get the appeal of driving fast on the streets. The freedom of the open road, the thrill of weaving in and out of traffic, the rush of encountering another fast car and giving chase. There’s nothing more primal about driving than being faster than the other guy; I was once hooked onto that drug, and the street was my dealer.
Romanticized by Hollywood and the odd Japanese anime, those late nights of my youth were spent trying to get as close as I could to my fictional heroes. Being then an 18-year old who just got his license and with a brand new Civic, there was a need to prove myself, a need to prove that nobody can beat me behind the wheel.
Every other night had an interesting ‘kill story’ for my fellow crew, and our egos kept growing as years passed. The cycle of running the streets for the sheer pleasure of beating the next guy was intoxicating. It reached a point that I felt invincible – like driving in real life was just another racing game whose physics I had a perfect grasp of. Of course, eventually life did find a way to prove that otherwise by reminding me that there’s no reset from crashing – and it can leave you severely wounded in the process.
My first major accident left me with a broken leg, a totaled car, and interestingly a sizeable group of friends and family that were worried enough to pay me a visit at the hospital. That last bit hit home real hard, as everyone from my family to my dearest friends, heck, even my high school classmates and my teachers were all there to check on me while I was down.
It was a stark reminder that there are people out there watching out for us – people that are waiting for us back home. I figured that -God forbid- anything worse had happened I would be the idiot that made all these people cry because I died over a high speed game of tag. I don’t think I want to be that guy, but the question is: do you?
Since then I wouldn’t say I shaped up completely, though this time around I do drive with a sizeable margin for error. We still did fun runs, late night blasts up the mountains, and maybe some random dogfights on the streets. We would say that "we’re in control" and "we have our limits", but the matter of fact is we’re still creating trouble. You know what eventually did me in though? It was when I saw the death of a dear friend first-hand.
Imagine seeing your friend crushed and lifeless inside his Toyota MR2, a car so fickle it snapped into a post and sandwiched him in between the motor and the concrete post. Traumatizing as that already is, the true grit of it came soon after. I had to pick up his bloodied phone, dial his mom, and be the bearer of bad news.
Trust me, you DO NOT want to be that guy. You do not want to be the person to tell your friend’s mother that he died over a ‘Sunday stroll up the mountains’. It's all fun and games 'til you're staring at your friend through his casket. Worse, if you're the one in it.
I am the last thing from a motoring saint, and at one point or another I am still a part of this problem – but I am trying. One decade long into this game and I’ve already crashed cars, broken bones, and lost dear friends over street racing. I just want you to take what you can from my stories and think it through before you decide to go for a spirited drive.
You have a Philippine Driver’s License, that means this country (albeit questionably) thinks you’re mature enough to make good decisions behind the wheel. Being eighteen means you’re now old enough to decide for yourself on many things, and when it comes to driving those choices can mean your own life or someone else’s.
Make good decisions guys. I want to see more car enthusiasts around town as I grow old and gray.