Where psycho cabbies come from
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2016 - 9:00am

You can punish those psycho cabbies all you want but there are a lot more where they “come from.”

While it is good that the LTFRB has been acting on complaints about violent or abusive cab drivers, they are merely dealing with the symptoms or the results, but not the problem that causes or creates psycho cab drivers.

The real problem is SLEEP DEPRIVATION and that is what happens when cab drivers are forced by taxi operators or by circumstance to do a straight 24-hour shift before turning the cab or taxi to the next driver who will do the next 24-hour shift and so on and so forth, unless the cab they drive falls apart or the driver falls asleep on the wheels.

It does not take long before a desperate cabbie will look for options to stay awake and manage to drive for 24 hours straight. There was a time when cab drivers and bus drivers were the primary markets of energy drinks and other caffeine products. But all of that got too expensive until only call center agents could afford it.

So the lowly cab drivers were left with two alternatives – suffer sleep deprivation until they pass out OR turn to the ever popular and cheap as P10 drug of choice called “shabu.” Yes folks, this partly explains why 92 percent of all the barangays in the Philippines have been infiltrated or affected by drugs and why there is a growing number of tricycle drivers, truck drivers and now cab drivers landing in jail for violent crimes.

If we have an abundance of “bad” cab drivers and taxis that are unsafe, uncomfortable or in generally bad shape, it is because the LTFRB and the Department of Labor and Employment have not taken the prerogative to act on this highly dangerous, illegal and crime inducing practice known as 24-hour straight shift.

The LTFRB and the DOLE keep yapping about employees rights, salaries based on eight-hour work shifts and standard five- to six-day weeks but at the end of the day all they have done is talk, talk, and talk some more. The LTFRB and DOLE must prove beyond doubt that they have arrested and charged operators and owners who pay bus drivers based on trip commissions and they must also put a stop to the 24-hour straight shift boundary system for taxis.

Cab drivers are humans with a breaking point due to sleep deprivation and it only gets worse when drugs get into the picture. The problem is passengers end up becoming victims and when drivers snap and lose their jobs and licenses and/or go to jail, they become victims of poverty, victims of operator’s greed, and victims of our justice system.

It is about time that the LTFRB and the DOLE also took responsibility for the problem and its consequences. It is not a problem of psycho cabbies but a crazy system that government has failed to fix.

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While we’re on the topic of stress, sleep deprivation and employee benefits, and since this is the beginning of the New Year, I would like to encourage company presidents, CEOs and heads of HR departments to look into the possibility of implementing “forced” or mandatory vacation policies.

I remember back when I was working with an American company in Connecticut, I received notice both written and verbal, informing me that I was required to take my two-week vacation leave. I attempted to negotiate to convert it to cash but the people in-charge would have nothing of it. Either use it or lose it!

I soon found myself on a 10-day road trip that turned out to be an education on driving a 20-foot truck and van, geography, history, planning, financial management as well as security and surveillance. Ten days on the road, all by myself also gave me a lot of alone time to reflect on life, relationships, problems and to appreciate the big picture. It was also the equivalent of filling up your mind with creative inputs as you drove from town to town, city to city.

I eventually realized that travelling does indeed educate you in more ways than one. It tops up your intellect and truly recharges your mind and soul, not to mention your spirituality given all that alone time.

Now that I regularly work as a business consultant and motivational lecturer, I try to make a point of telling leaders to enforce the same rules, no ifs or buts! I also suggest that HR officers or team leaders try to help, guide or advice their staff or colleagues about planning for a productive vacation, because vacations should not simply be about lying on the beach and “living the life.”

Study-vacations have been popular for sometime, taking time out to scratch things out of your bucket list can be fulfilling, serving others can be a spiritual journey. Vacations need not be about doing nothing, which is also a valid choice. But the goal is to leave work behind or on top of your office table. As Governor Jun Dy of Isabela once told me: “Don’t worry, all your work will be where you left it and it will welcome you with open arms when you return!”

Most hard-nosed businessmen don’t really believe in mandatory vacations but then again, why should they? They are too busy investing time and life in THEIR business. The funny thing is even the toughest teams in sports know very well about the importance of taking a break, having an off season or about not burning out or peaking before the championship.

In sports, not resting, not taking a break results in serious, expensive and long-term injury. In business and career tracks, not enforcing mandatory vacations or rest periods results in diminishing performance, bad decisions and worst of all, operational or leadership failures due to fatigue or stress. A tired horse or carabao will simply lie down and you can whip it all you want but it won’t budge. It knows its limits. People don’t. So please: Use it or lose it.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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