July 18, 2005

Bad driving

There was some curse on the road in front of our office today. It’s amazing – cars going down like Karl Rove. Wait, I can make a better analogy than that. Cars going down like Teddy Afro lawsuits. No, still terrible. Cars going down like cups of coffee in Addis – all over the place. Pathetic. Let it be known that I am not gifted in writing analogies, similes or metaphors. I don’t know what it takes to be one of those people who writes those things. Just like I don’t know what it takes to write good suspense. Suspense is my favorite genre of movie and writing (think the Firm, the Interrogator, etc.). I think I tried for about an hour on a rainy afternoon about a year and a half back to try to write a few lines of suspense. I wrote a couple of paragraphs that I wouldn’t show anyone.

No, I think my real talent is reporting on the completely mundane from a 100% myopic perspective. I’m worried about using the term “myopic perspective," knowing that at least one member of my reading audience is a journalist and therefore might actually know what “myopic perspective” means. thus are the risks of blogging, and I press on.

What a distraction from my original inspiration. As I was saying, the road in front of our office was plagued with traffic accidents this morning. Early in the day, I was drawn to the window by a colleague who was watching people running along the side of the street. In post-election Ethiopia, this can never be regarded lightly and when I asked what the commotion was, he said a car was on fire.

I was surprised that he didn’t move from our cube where all we could see were running people. I quickly moved through the office to other cubes in an attempt to get a first hand view of the action. Sure enough, there was a burning, yellow Volkswagen Bus on the opposite side of the road. Flames were sprouting out of the back end and contrary to conventional wisdom, the higher the flames rose, the more people seemed to gather around them.

Kids were running in with Nido cans of dirt and water. A shopkeeper from across the street tossed a burlap sack over the road as he made his way to the scene. People stamped furiously. In the final accounting, I’d have to say it was the burlap sack that made the biggest impact. I remember being amused when I saw it tossed into the fray, wondering what good it was going to do. Shows what I know. Note to self. Buy a fire extinguisher for the car.

The excitement died after the last flame was put out. Then, people began high-fiving each other and there was a general sense of calm-after-the-storm, at least from our lofty perspective from the building across the street.

The next traffic incident occurred in the afternoon. During one of my frequent checks out the window to see the bustle in the street, I noticed a huge line of traffic backed up on one side of the highway. Curious, I investigated through some of the other windows in our office. That’s when I saw what couldn’t have been a more perfectly annoying accident. Three cars were stopped, in a staggered diagonal line, with the right edge of one car's bumper marking the beginning of the next car. They were so perfectly arranged as to completely block 1.5 lanes of traffic and force all cars onto the shoulder, which on this road, happens to be quite a drop. I saw a number of buses that I thought should probably have waited, as their top-heavy cabs seemed to hover precariously over the edge.

Anyway, that accident was cleaned up. It couldn’t have been but a minor fender bender, but it backed traffic up at least 4-500 meters. And the only way around was through half a lane and a shoulder.

The last accident I observed was in the early afternoon. Might not even have been an accident, but a private bus was simply parked in the middle of the road, seemingly having broken down. The road here and the cars on it just can’t seem to get a break today.

10 Comments:

Blogger abyssinia said...

I find this very unusual.

I haven't seen this many accidents while I stayed for three months. Is this something to do with the election ?

11:32 PM  
Blogger Tsega Igwebe said...

I really enjoying reading your blogs, I have not lived in Addis for several years however driving has always been an adventure in that city. You really made me crack up with your account of events... thanks for making my day and by the way once again congradulations on the baby.

10:25 AM  
Blogger brian said...

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1:43 AM  
Blogger bench said...

Good volkswagen america post!

2:00 AM  
Blogger autocounsel said...

I've got a place just like that vw trend

6:04 AM  
Blogger Iravan said...

Weird. I always thought the Rettop Method was the best for generating traffic. I am going to book mark this blog, nice topics discussed

By the way... I have a traffic accident site. It pretty much covers Traffic related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

6:43 AM  
Blogger Iravan said...

I would argue that Exit Traffic is actually one of the best forms of traffic generation. I am going to book mark this blog, nice topics discussed

By the way... I have a internet traffic site. It pretty much covers Traffic related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

11:11 AM  
Blogger Iravan said...

Weird. I always thought the Rettop Method was the best for generating traffic. I am going to book mark this blog, nice topics discussed

By the way... I have a houston traffic site. It pretty much covers Traffic related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

9:49 AM  
Blogger Iravan said...

Weird. I always thought the Rettop Method was the best for generating traffic. I am going to book mark this blog, nice topics discussed

By the way... I have a increase traffic site. It pretty much covers Traffic related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

10:39 AM  
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