Bump in the Road

I know it’s been awhile since the last blog entry but I’ve been busy, life is hectic and hot weather makes even the shortest day feel like an eternity.

Though I am sitting at a computer with a fast connection which is a rarity in Amman (perhaps going from cable in Canada to dial up in Jordan is like Superman loosing all his super powers; I feel exposed), so I thought I would take the opportunity to vent out on speed bumps in Amman.

They are driving me crazy.

I remember the city being littered with them a few years back though now many have been removed; unfortunately the warning signs have not. Every time I see one of those yellow signs with the shape of a bump in the road I slam on the breaks only to discover that there is no speed bump. Ironically the speed bumps that were NOT taken out have NO warning signs!

There is a phycological element involved in driving in Amman. Drivers here memorize the roads. We know the main roads, the side roads, the back streets, the short cuts and the unavoidable detours. So when a speed bump is removed people will still brake simply out of the expectation that there was once upon a time a speed bump here. If the signs are removed along with the bumps, people will still brake. This is disastrous I’ve found, I witnessed an accident yesterday to that very effect. Two cars were speeding down a road and one suddenly threw on the brakes remembering that a speed bump was just ahead only to discover the gravel debris of its remains and that his rear tail lights were now broken because the car behind him had hit him.

It’s not just the memory, but the power of the memory itself. See in Amman a person can remember the location of a speed bump if they pass that road several hundred times (it’s a small town), but what’s worse is the story behind the speed bump. It used to be that every couple of days a new speed bump would appear from no where, sending cars flying or brakes screeching. So everyone has a story in Amman about the time they hit a speed bump so big sparks flew from the exhaust pipe and hence the memory of the speed bump is just as bad as the speed bump itself. It’s very much like burning your hand on a stove at the age of 3 and growing up to fear stoves.

These days the people of Amman don’t brake suddenly because they remembered a speed bump up ahead; they brake because they remember how bad that speed bump was.

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