Jam Master

I have a love/hate relationship with congested traffic. On one hand, it’s annoying as all get-out – that much is obvious, and hardly needs mentioning. On the other hand, it offers a prime opportunity to practice equanimity, mindfulness and humility, all from the comfort of a seated position and the privacy of a sealed-off metal pod. I’ve actually found myself looking forward to the worst stretch of my daily commute, so much do I enjoy the test of my mettle that it presents.

It’s got to the point where I get excited when I see that a main thoroughfare is under construction. Traffic management plans and the best efforts of signage designers notwithstanding, this usually results in some sort of delay, which means another opportunity for personal development. Even if it’s just having to pause for a moment to let someone in from a blocked-off lane, it’s something to be seized with gusto.

You can imagine, then, my delight when I was assigned to file some legal documents for a traffic consulting firm. Melbourne roads being the way they are, I hoped I could use the meeting to work in a few questions about upcoming road works. If I could find out in advance where the traffic was going to be the worst over the coming months, I could arrange my calendar accordingly, perhaps leaving home early so I could take the longer and more congested route to work.  

Unsurprisingly, the consultancy’s representative was not overly keen to get into that during the meeting. I did my best to be subtle about dropping in my questions, but I could still see that the guy was a little weirded out by it. It kind of makes sense, given that his firm’s raison d’etre is essentially to improve traffic flow, and here I am, expressing my desire to actively become stuck in traffic.