Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting around

This week marks the beginning of pandemonium. Its internationally agreed, for 2 weeks there is no worse traffic anywhere on the planet. All because of a holiday that has become nationwide family reunion week (or 2 weeks depending on how long people decide to stay away from work). The capital city is home to millions of people who aren't really from there. They go for work, or in hopes of work, but long to go back home to visit family and friends, and spread the wealth. Its what you do. And most of them are from little villages here. My city happens to be the intersection of major North/South and major East/West highways, thus the intersection of the universe. As we go throughout the week, traffic gets a little thicker. Drivers become more urgent, tired, hungry, excited.

Today I went out to take a friend around to get her internet set up. Traffic was heavier but people were still patient. Not the honking, yelling and life-threatening reckless that will take over on Friday. The Police have set up their outposts at major intersections and particularly troublesome spots. Barricades have started going up randomly to try to ease/ streamline the flow of traffic and prevent the worst of the bottlenecks. The police outposts are funny because they aren't necessarily to control traffic. They are there in large part to move barricades and give drivers a place to pull over and rehydrate if necessary. They do some policing but it's pretty limited here at the beginning of the week. While driving down past one of the malls the two lanes going the opposite direction were packed with cars, so the motorcycles decided to use my lane. Driving towards oncoming traffic showing no fear. My options are to stop and go nowhere on the road, neither able to UTurn or go forward, or to forge ahead in neutral blinking my lights and honking my horn, essentially signaling that I will be moving forward and you should get out of the way. It's a game of chicken and it takes and exhausting level of nerve.

I saw only one accident of mention. Taxi is trying to turn out against traffic, he's edging, traffic is letting him cross, he thinks he's clear. Motorcycle comes barreling down against traffic. Taxi hits motorcycle before he sees motorcycle. Completely not the taxis fault. Taxi becomes angry. Yelling and hollering ensues inside the cab. But motorcyclist clearly hasn't learned anything. He pulls ahead, laughs it off, speeds away, coming towards me stopped with nowhere to go. This young man is destined for the ER before the end of the next 2 weeks. Had this been a real accident with injury, who would have been responsible? The taxi. Why? Because he's bigger. And the "rules" are that the bigger guy is at fault. Nevermind that the taxi was barely edging in to what appeared to be a clear lane. Nevermind that the motorcycle was across the lane divider, speeding against traffic. And that is why the taxi (and I) were so angry. We're responsible for the other guys negligence by virtue of the fact that we happened to be on the same roadway. Sigh…

So when I get ready to go somewhere. I first turn the car to get the AC going really good. Then take the time to adjust all mirrors. Use some hand sanitizer. Put on chapstick. Make sure the cup of water is handy. Make sure I've responded to and finished all conversations via mobile phone. Made sure the parking money is out and accessible with the parking ticket. Fill the change cup for the beggars at the stoplights. Plugged in the Ipod with the battery charger. Checked the sound levels. Found the right playlist for my mood and the estimated time to arrival at destination. Checked with @ for needing snacks, water, music selection, if he's in the car. Make sure my hair isn't annoying me. The AC vents are in the right spots. I can see my Driver's License and Registration in the glove compartment. Adjusted my pants so they don't get sweaty. Made sure my sandals aren't too tight. Adjusted my sleeves, I don't like it when they get tight around my upper arm. Pray for the traffic and that I can control my anger inspite of their seeming deathwish. Found my sunglasses. Now I'm ready to go…

Post a Comment