Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Close But No Cigar

Imagine my surprise when, walking down Follow the Leader the other day, I came across a brand spanking new set of traffic lights across from the mosque. At least, I think they’re a brand spanking new set of traffic lights. Judging from the fact that I watched several cars plough right through the red light and half a dozen more screech to an eardrum-piercing halt (all within 20 minutes), I'm pretty certain they're new.

There is a dearth of traffic lights on Follow the Leader, so I, for one, applauded the new light. Notice the tense I used? Intrigued? You see, my applause was abruptly arrested (imagine me stranding on FTL clapping with one hand) when I realised that the city must have hired recent graduates from the What-the-Fuck-Were-They-Thinking Institute of Engineering as civic planners. Why? Well, imagine you are walking northbound on FTD and wish to cross over to the mosque-side of the street. Perhaps you’ve espied your favourite beggar & you’re feeling generous, or maybe you just want to avoid the cretins who hang out at the park on the corner of FTL and Rue Baht. Or, I don’t know, perchance the sidewalk with the missing tiles and exposed rebar and wires is deterring you for some reason. Either way, you want to cross. First of all, remember that in Rabat, traffic lights are normally positioned about 3 meters away from any corner and because there is a marked absence of pedestrian crossing lights, as a biped, you cannot see what colour the light is. In other words, you have to rely on whether traffic is moving or beeping to gauge traffic flow. Okay, standing on the corner, you realise that the light must be red (allowing for the ignorami who haven’t clued into the humongous piece of flashing metal suspended over the street and drive on through).

Feeling rather confident, you foolishly cross.

Ahhhh, nothing is easy in Rabat and there is a problem. Imagine! The problem is that the oncoming southbound cars are not yielding to you. No, in fact, they’re honking their horns in exasperation (or glee) because they will be forced to hit you. If they are to hit you, it is Allah’s will which makes them instruments of god (hence the glee). Halfway through the intersection, you realise that those bearing down on you have a green light and you must run for your life. Scurrying across the street you look back and, yes, the northbound drivers are still waiting impatiently for their light to turn from red. Half the street is standing, half the street is moving.

Jesus H. Christ, it’s bad enough that crossing a street here makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from The Fast & The Furious, but installing a traffic light that taunts you with its façade of safety and, dare I say, civilisation, is just plain cruel. And mean. And dangerous. To think that I used to get annoyed when, back home, lights within several city blocks weren’t synchronized – now I have to contend with the same set of freaking lights. Serves me right for being a princess. So yeaaaaaaaaah! to the city for installing a much-needed traffic light but booooooooo! to the retards who skipped the class on traffic light synchronization. Hope they didn’t ditch elevator class too.

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