Monday, August 31, 2015

Learn to love your traffic jam

It's time we give up fretting about traffic jams and learn to love them. Spending hours trapped in traffic is just part of our lives. Like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Kardashians, traffic jams are never going away.

People say a rapid rail would ease our traffic woes. That won't happen, because the only thing Trinbagonians hate more than being stuck in traffic is not having a convenient excuse to reach to work late. Besides we are not about to abandon our cars for public transport. One of the perks of having a car is to feel smug about not having to use public transport.
Flying cars won't save us either. If we had flying cars here, WASA would discover a way to dig up the sky requiring constant sky closures. This being the T&T sky there would also be cloud potholes everywhere.

The only way to really solve our traffic problem is to love it. Let's be clear, when I say “love” I don't mean “real love”, I mean “pretend love”. As in the way we all pretend we go to Panorama because we “love” steelpan and not just to lime on the greens. Or the way we all pretend we love watching Gayelle when nobody actually watches it.

Pretending to love traffic jams involves some simple mind games. The next time you're stuck in traffic, use it to do something new. Instead of listening to the radio why not put on that CD you forgot you bought from Morgan Job that time at the airport.
 As you listen to the CD ask yourself things like: “Is Morgan Job's CD basically his radio show without callers? What's the point?”Or, “Why does Morgan Job always sell his CDs in the departures area of the airport when presumably it's meant for people living here?” And, “Why exactly did I buy this CD in the first place?”

If you don't have a radio or CD player you can always read the billboards along the highway. They are always fascinating. Like that one with an attractive half-naked woman dressed up as a mermaid selling a car battery. Now why would a creature that does not live on land be concerned about the quality of batteries in land-based vehicles?

Pondering mysteries like these is a great way to stimulate your brain, while forgetting you've been stuck in the same spot for two hours.
If you driving alone, or maybe with someone you can't stand, why not try talking to the man selling newspapers by the intersection. Maybe ask him about his life story. Perhaps he will have a tragic yet inspiring story to tell you like on Humans of New York. The only downside to this is that you might have to actually buy a newspaper. (Unless you're buying the Express of course).

If doing these things doesn't work it's time to switch gears. Get philosophical about how you view traffic jams. Don't worry if your ideas don't make sense. That doesn't stop socialists or feminists on Tumblr. Perhaps think about how traffic jams bring us all together.
Traffic jams may be the one thing all of us share in culturally. There are definitely more Trinbagonians with a horrendous traffic story than there are those who, say, saw Carnival last year. Speaking of Carnival, traffic jams might actually dethrone it as our premier cultural achievement.

When you consider how much people modify their cars these days, traffic jams have far more creativity on display than Carnival does now.
In traffic jams we are not divided into PNM or UNC or whatever Nicole Dyer-Griffith's new party is called. We are just drivers, all united in our disgust of those morons who drive up the shoulder. Nobody's religion matters in a traffic jam. We all disregard the teachings of the same holy book—the Highway Rules and Regulations. It doesn't matter how expensive our cars are. They are mostly all foreign-used anyway.

In traffic jams we are just all equally miserable people, heading in the same direction, trying our best to suppress a murderous rage and a need to pee. Is that not, ultimately, a lovely metaphor about life?
So go ahead, love being stuck in traffic. People might tell you you're delusional. But hey, that's better than going insane.

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