Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Traffic Riddle

This is a problem that has puzzled and stumped many Klang Valley people for years. Today, while driving to work, it hit me again. What is it about the Federal Highway that makes for such erratic traffic conditions that it makes the Bermuda Triangle as mysterious as my bathtub?

Some mornings, I manage to sleep through two alarms. That’s saying something, because I can be a light enough sleeper to wake up if the next door neighbour’s kids drop a water bottle on the floor. These two alarms are annoying enough to wake the dead (figuratively speaking), especially the one on the old-fashioned bell-‘n-hammer type Pooh clock on my dresser.

So after sleeping through two alarms, I’m finally wakened by sunlight coming in through my window. But because my room faces West, by the time that happens it’s well past 8.00 am.

(Yes, I’m sure all these details have something to do with the mystery of the Federal Highway. Everything is connected. Never underestimate the invisible links between visible things. There, now I sound like my lecturers in uni. Or at least, like someone who’s spent too much time in traffic.)

So by 8.45 I’m ready for work. Jump into the car and whizz off to work, and somehow, I’m parking my car at 9.00 on the dot. Which means I reach the office at 9.05, which is late, so I resolve to leave the house earlier.

Which brings in the paradox. This morning, I dropped Kenny off at his office and took his car, which he kindly lent me since I’ve lent my car to Pops.

(We have complex transportation arrangements.)

At 8.30 sharp, I reached the part of the highway which on those sleep-delayed days I hit only at 8.52.

And there were cars queued up all the way back to Holland, or thereabouts.

And I parked my car at…

… 9.00 sharp.

Where do all those cars which are on the road at 8.30 go that by 8.45 they’ve virtually disappeared? I mean, I’m not saying “half a dozen cars in sight at any one time”, I’m talking about, “shopping mall parking lot 1 week before Chinese New Year”. I’m talking about moving at the rate of 5 minutes per cm. It can’t be that at 8.43, all drivers come to the unanimous decision to just not be there. It’s just not possible to drive all those cars away from that point on the highway, whether by exiting or by progressing further, because the traffic extends to the exit and all the way down this long, long road.

I don’t know. It’s just weird. Makes me wonder what time I have to leave the house in order to enjoy clear traffic and get to work on time.

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