Ruminate & Reflect: Insights from a Parking Lot In the Philippines


4 out of 5 chances, you're likely Filipino. Most of you guys are Filipino, so you know this situation very well. This happens when you go out with your family or friends, especially at the mall. We don't really notice this at first because it's "the norm". The more I thought about it, the more I learned how ingrained this is in our culture. But if you're non-Filipino, let this be something to learn about us. Take this in the right way, it's what makes us interesting as a nation. It's something subconscious and ingrained in our culture. The moment I realized it, I was like "Oh s***, that's it."

I'm gonna tell a story from the second POV: from your view. Forget about your age, gender, or whether or not you own a license. Today, you are going to drive a car.

The Situation

It's the weekend. You take out 3 people with you to the mall. You're the only one who can drive. So among them, you're the only one with the vehicle, the key, and the parking ticket.

But as you ascend the third floor of the parking lot, you read this sign. In bold and pure white, it said: "Parking Lot Full". To challenge you more, it's a sale on a Saturday afternoon. Shucks, you thought, I'd just go up the other floor.

"Let's go to the 4th floor." You suggested. But as you're about to turn the wheel, you paused to hear your passengers' say.

Passenger 1 sternly stares at you. "Just wait here! They're just fooling you with that sign. Someone's gonna go away!" "But there are more slots upstairs..." Passenger 1 reiterates, "They're gonna leave!"

As you're about to reply, Passenger 2 chimes in. "But what if there's no slots on the 4th floor? Or the 5th floor? Or the 6th floor?" "Well I'm sure we'll know if we go up there. We never really know..." "It's a sale today! It's always this full! We'll have a hard time finding parking!"

You're about to reverse because you're having none of this. As the wheels turned backward, Passenger 3 startles you with her outburst. "Ugh why is this taking so long!" "Well we're gonna go up to the 4th floor already." "Ugh let's just leave." She said, "It's a sale, it's overpopulated, and we can't find parking FFS!"

So, which one are you gonna follow?

A Little Note

Yes. This actually happens in parking lots here. On a clear day, there's at least 3-5 cars on the first parking floor waiting for a slot in a full parking lot. They just wait for the ones who got the best slots to leave the area. (By best slots, I mean those nearest to the mall access.) Weird enough is they don't even drive around to see if there are empty slots. They just stay there, waiting. The moment they see people walking along the parking lot, they just wait. Plot twist: only 25% of these people are the ones who really leave.

I'm not sure if this is just a Filipino thing. Maybe other cultures do this too, tell me if yours does this.

What Would You Do?

Now, back to you. End the story with your choice.

Did you choose Passenger 1? Well guess what. You have to have a lot of patience. It's uncertain how much time this will take. Will it be 15 minutes? 2 hours? A quarter before the last hour of the mall? Well, staying to wait for something that's unavailable really takes a while.

Did you choose Passenger 2? She's pretty concerned. I get where she's coming from. She's got a good point. But it prevent you from seeing what the upper floors have available.

Did you choose Passenger 3? Take note you wanted to go out. You have a way to make things happen. Would you let her wet blanket ass get in your way?

How about this: did you choose you? If you did, well done. You should go to the next floor if you wish.

The Passengers: An Explanation

Your three passengers stand for three things: complacency, worry, and negativity.

Complacency is a fancier term for "sticking to the status quo because you're a lazy f***." I thought about calling it mediocrity, but I chose complacency for the idea behind the word. So yeah, it's being lazy because being lazy with life and maintaining a plateau is easier than productivity while going up and down mountains.

Worry is doubt and fear mixed in together, and oh boy. As someone with anxiety, this is quite a battle do deal with. We all have that "fight or flight" response because it's a primal thing. And we still do, but this time instead of predators with four legs, anything could trigger us.

Negativity is assuming the worst. Just thinking the "can't" and the "never". And we're all guilty of this. It's the end result of worry because it's what happens when we let worry win. We just give up. And we continue on living, noticing what we lack, what we yearn for.

This is everywhere in our lives. Sometimes, it's the people we know. Or worse, it's even the people we care who has this mentality. The worst is, is when we let this mentality affect us, or if it's within us.

Now I'll be firm when I say this: do not blame anyone or yourself  if we all fall under this category. Certain circumstances lead us to let such affect us. It is normal, and we should acknowledge it but keep it minor. It's being human, after all.

You: The Answer

Of course. In the end, you should always choose what you feel is best. After all, you're the one driving the car–or shall I say, your life. Your hands are on the wheel. You possess the key. You paid for the ticket. And most importantly, you're the only one with the license to live your life as you define it.

Always be the lead, the director, and the writer of your film. You're the one who knows how the production should go. It is your vision that matters. The supporting actors, production assistants, or the score musicians need your guidance. So open the lights, let the camera roll, and take action like you should.

Final Words

I chose to use the parking lot analogy because I see this ingrained in our culture too. One of our common issues is "crab mentality". Even when something good happens to someone, or someone has a grand idea, the other crabs decide to bring that crab down. I always see this in articles about "Things Filipinos should change about themselves", and while I do agree, I feel like this should apply to other countries /  groups of people too.

We should bring each other up. When there's something/one holding you down, always choose to turn the situation around for the good. And when someone expresses doubts, worries, or just negativity... Give them your understanding, patience, gratitude, and the excess good you have to offer for others. Same goes with yourself.

Be at peace with everyone, and most importantly, be at peace with yourself.

I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.
– Invictus by William Ernest Henley
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
– Hebrews 11:1, The Holy Bible, NIV