Durban - Traffic does strange things to people. Take my aunt for example, a pious woman, who never raises her voice, quotes scripture and hosts cake sales to raise money for the local madressa, but put her in the middle of 5pm weekday traffic and she’s hurling f-words in all directions, the kind of cussing that would make even Joe Pesci blush.
The point is, traffic can push even the most passive, mild-mannered people over the edge. Just the other day, I cut a Tibetan monk off and he let me know what he thought of my mother.
Let’s face it, driving is stressful, unless you’re doing it at 10 in the morning when the roads are all but deserted. But hey, how many times do you actually find yourself driving at 10am? Most times you’re driving when everyone else is, too, meaning you have to deal with a variety of idiots who are seemingly hell-bent on killing you. While it’s easy to blame your traffic frustrations and the road-rage murders you commit on taxi drivers, it’s important they’re only part of the problem.
Don’t for a second believe that if a meteorite suddenly burst through the earth’s atmosphere and wiped out your local taxi rank you’re going to be having pleasant motoring days.
Oh no, there are still many, many more other irritations out there to ruin your day.
The one thing I can never figure out is why it’s called “rush hour” when traffic is at its slowest. Surely, if everyone is in a hurry to get home, traffic should in theory move along at its quickest, right? But obviously not.
A mate of mine who is full of useless bits of information tells me that the slow movement of traffic during “rush hour” is caused by someone right at the front, braking, subsequently causing every one behind him to brake.
Of course this happens throughout the city, causing those delays that annoy us. Maybe the people who cause the braking chains are exceptionally nervous drivers or guys who don’t want to go home to their wives just delaying the agony or perhaps they are just folks who enjoy reading each and every street pole ad.
Collisions or breakdowns also commonly cause irritating delays. Although I have a theory about this, I am pretty sure the traffic guy would agree with me. It’s not so much the actual accident or stationary vehicle that slows down traffic, but annoying drivers who have a fascination with things stuck on the freeway.
Are our lives that mundane that we will slow down to stare at something that is not moving? I agree with comedian Neil Green, who says if you’re going to be stuck in a two-hour traffic jam, it better be for a good reason.
The morbid curiosity in all of us makes our eyes light up when we see a 25-car pile-up with six fire engines and three helicopters on the scene. Now that’s a worthwhile traffic delay and something worth mentioning at work the next day. It’s always disappointing when you finally reach the “obstruction” to discover that it’s a broken radiator.
But wait, here’s a list of other people likely to annoy you the next time you’re in traffic:
Moving Hazard: I don’t know whether it’s just a Durban thing, but lately I’ve noticed an increasing number of idiots who drive with their hazards on for no apparent reason.
Every time I see this, I wonder whether there’s something I’m missing. Maybe the driver is trying to tell me that his car is on fire or maybe there’s a runaway zebra around. But most times, the moron is just lost, in which case he should’ve bought a GPS system. When taxi drivers drive with their hazards on, it’s actually them being thoughtful, a way of saying, “hey, watch out, I’m a hazard!”
Death by Phone: You’ve encountered her in traffic time and time again, you know, the chick who is a k*k driver as it is, yet insists on having a full-on conversation with her boyfriend while you’re behind her.
Of course, during this very expressive conversation, she totally forgets she is sharing the road with other people and thinks nothing of straying from lane to lane and turning without notice.
Beware of her uncle “Business on wheels”, the guy who does multimillion-rand deals while driving in traffic. This guy is oblivious to you and everyone else. You can hoot, scream, shout and swear, nothing is going to stop his mobile business meeting.
The Tailgunner: This is the guy who drives up your arse irrespective of how fast you’re going. He insists on staying within centimetres of your rear and behaves as if you’re breaking the law by not driving at 200km/h.
The Flash: He looks for any opportunity to flash his lights. He will flash the car in front of him, flash oncoming traffic to warn motorists of cops and even pretty girls on street corners. There will even be times when he flashes and you will have no idea why he is doing it. Perhaps he thinks we all know Morse code.
Mr Surprise: It’s hard to tell whether his indicators are broken, he is too lazy to use them or he just doesn’t know what that lever on the steering wheel is for. Keep a safe distance. Anything is possible with this guy.
The Lane Dancer: You have no idea which lane he wants to be in, and neither does he. He will change lanes 25 times on a 100m stretch of road and when he does settle on one he will realise he is in the wrong lane and force his way across yours.
Chaos Cop: The traffic lights are out and it was someone’s genius idea to send a traffic officer to direct things. But instead of making things better, he makes it a whole lot worse. The clueless traffic cop has been wreaking havoc across the city for years. Today is your unlucky day. -Sunday Tribune