Vagaries of Human Life (3)

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MOVING AT ZERO MPH

 

It could have been a breeze, this rite and ritual of going home to roost.

 

The day has been long, the third in a three-day end-of-semester ceremony of oral examinations for a variety of courses I teach.

 

This Friday promised a shorter day of earning a living, enough to feed body and soul in these days of sequestration and of our uneasy Americanized lives.

 

I have heard people complain about the cost of living in these islands, the second most expensive in the union, next only to the Big Apple where everyone is fighting the same bone.

 

We do the same in Hawaii now, in general. We fight the same bone too!

 

Housing cost is atmospheric and rental fee is beyond the means of ordinary wage earners. You can hire a magician but no magical trick would do the trick of living beyond paycheck to paycheck.

 

A family has to put in four or five ordinary wages earners to at least be able to foot the basic bills: rent, food, power, water, and transporation.

 

Put in the family phone, plus banquet tickets some of the time and we have a recipe for poverty and misery.   

 

But this is not the point this note is trying to drive at.  

 

It is this calvary so many of us went through today.

 

I called it quits early from our work, at three.

 

Others particularly those working in hotels and who are on a shift could have been on the road earlier, perhaps at 2:00 or 2:30 PM.

 

From the parking structure, I saw cars jamming at the freeway, on both sides.

 

I told myself, ‘Here we go again!’

 

In my mind’s eye, I saw how it happened that I spent six hours on the road when a military guy in an engineering brigade accidentally had his forklift damaged one side of the overpass and had a whole concrete slab of overpass railing fall on the freeway pavement, effectively blocking trapping. 

 

At that first incident, I got off from some school work at 9:00 PM, and reached my home at 3:00 AM the following day.

 

The distance between my home and my work at the university is about 20 miles, plus or minus, or about 32 kilometers.

 

Under ideal conditions, that distance could be navigated in 15 minutes.

 

This time around, the minutes became hours: six hours, and even more for some others. 

 

And now this: on May 10, we went through the same rite and ritual again, moving at zero speed, the pointer of the speedometer steady at that number, and practically immobile.

 

It amazes me that a car can move at zero.

 

I asked a niece who rode with me to check the traffic report: so many accidents in this one stretch of a freeway—in a span of minutes.

 

But his H-1 traffic jam has become normal for us now.

 

When we go to downtown Honolulu, or to the university main campus in Manoa, we give ourselves a lead time of two hours.

 

When I taught an early class at 7:00 AM, I used to leave my place at 4:30 AM the latest to spare myself from the trouble of being caught in a morning jam.

 

For five months, I endured that experience of sipping my coffee on the road, and at times, blinded the the lights of oncoming cars.

 

And the morning fog would present itself as a challenge too.

 

And when the morning rain comes and hit your windshield, you have to have the wiper go on frenzy.

 

Or better yet, use your hazzard light. 

 

I do not know the details of this four-hour calvary.

 

Tomorrow, I am sure, this afternoon’s waste of time will hit the headlines. 

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