Thursday, April 19, 2007

It wasn't my best move perhaps, and I can assure you that I certainly wasn't trying to get away with anything or get anywhere quickly. Last week returning from Biakpa; 219 miles completed without incident, and just 1/4 mile to go when we came to the intersection of Gifford Road and Aviation Bypass.

Load shedding was in effect for the area, meaning all local business and houses were without power. As well, traffic signals were not functioning. No flashing red or yellow lights. Usually a uniformed marshal of some sort is posted at the intersection to control the chaos. Sometimes a volunteer citizen simply snaps branches off a tree to wave down traffic. Believe it or not, drivers respect guys with branches. Often after dark, the intersection is just a free for all of tooting horns, and squealing brakes and near misses per below.

Same intersection but today riding home from work. Thankfully, the concept of "road rage" has not quite caught on here. Simply wave your arms, honk the horn and wait your turn. Or, put the car in reverse and go weave around the island. It all seems to work somehow. It is scary and funny all at the same time.

In a sense we were lucky. The marshal dressed in camouflage appeared to have cross traffic stopped allowing me to pass through the intersection well below the speed limit. Arms up with palms facing cross traffic. The coast looked clear to me. Actually, I was thinking, this is too good to be true....I don't have to wait, or have to turn away hawkers.

By the time I was half way through the intersection, Mr. Marshal was making it very clear that I had done something terribly wrong, perhaps even insulted his manhood. He waved. I waved back, but cleared the intersection.

Looking in my rear view mirror, wouldn't you know it, he is chasing us down on foot! Hmm...pull over? I wasn't making a getaway. Unbelievably, he comandeered a passing Volkswagon to join the chase (and abandon his duties). Good grief. I used turn signals and slowly made the final turn onto our street when the VW pulled in front of use blocking the road. Out jumps Mr. Grumpy Marshal.

Yes, I saw you. No, it looked safe to pass. I thought you were stopping traffic for me.... On and on...just wasted words. (And considering the really flagrant every day disregard of basic rules of the road like driving on the correct side of the road, with head/tail lights, obeying functioning traffic signals...I was a bit surprised this error actually caught someone's attention, and even more surprised that someone sprang to action) I wanted to add...perhaps something a bit brighter than camouflage would be a good idea. Say...bright orange. And shooing away the hawkers... This hand signal pretty universally means stop... Of course I kept my cool.

Admitting my mistake was apparently not good enough. I was scolded. He told me to come back to the intersection with him. I had to inform him that we were not going anywhere with him. If he needed to write a ticket, he could do it here on the spot. More scolding and the inevitable "next time" warning...

After a few minutes of scolding and me tapping the steering wheel in disgust, I'd heard enough from him and told him he needs to do a better job of managing his intersection. So there.

No ticket.

I mean, on one hand I want to commend the Marshall for attempting to uphold some sort of order. On the other hand, I kinda feel as though someone must have just removed the blinders.

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