Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's the Same All Over the World

No matter what country you live in, traffic has its challenges: aggressive drivers, indecisive drivers, psycho pedestrians, traffic jams, unclear road signs, etc. Over here my two main challenges - (okay, three) - are as follows:

1. Roadworks. When we moved here in September 2007 they were beginning to upgrade the highways for the upcoming Fifa World Cup to be held in 2010. Nearly one year after the World Cup, they are still upgrading the highways. In the same spots. What this equates to is that for 3 1/2 years it's been faster to take the long way around the highway rather than use it.

2. Street hawkers. I don't mind people selling things on the street; I really don't. I can completely respect a person's right to earn a living. But when I'm driving to a particular destination, say, and in that process have to convince five different people why I don't need pirated DVD's, an inflatable life vest, a cell phone charger, a poster of the digestive system or a green Spongebob Squarepants, the drive is hardly relaxing. I used to think that the frame of my car defined my personal space on the road. I was wrong.

3. Bakkies (trucks). More specifically, the drivers of said bakkies. I don't know what it is about people who drive bakkies in this country (and if you know, please explain it to me), but they seem to think they have the right of way no matter what. If the robot is red, that doesn't stop them. If they want to change lanes and you're in the way, they will happily drive you off the road. If you get to a traffic circle before them, they still speed up to cut you off. Every time (and I literally mean every time) I've been cut off in traffic, run off the road, or yelled at, it's been by a man in a bakkie. The other day I actually yelled back, "You're ruining my sense of ubuntu!"

What is it about traffic that can make us feel so violated?

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