Sie stehen nicht im Stau, Sie sind der Stau

That’s a slogan I remember seeing as graffiti on German autobahns. It means “You’re not stuck in the traffic jam, you are the traffic jam.”

Recently, as I cycled into town at about 10 am, the streets were deliciously free of traffic. I like to think that this was because all the (at-home) mothers of Sydney were putting their feet up for a moment at home before sallying forth again on their household or other errands. By this hour, commuters are mostly parked and occupied at their destinations for the day.

Our perceptions of the operation of large systems of which we are a part are very finely tuned. The temperature has to drop only a tiny bit and we all feel the cold; the economy only needs to sneeze for us all to feel a shiver. Sometimes, and in the case of the economy almost certainly, what we are noticing is not the overall change, but the localised reactions to it – all those mini crises which result from the system crunching on individuals along the fault lines of financial vulnerabiity- a bit like inflammation at a site of infection. Similarly I am sure we feel local variations in traffic density with the acuity of a cat responding to the rattle of a Whiskas box, but like a frog being boiled, hardly notice the gradual build up of cars over the years.

On weekdays, I avoid and only very rarely and then momentarily contribute to any traffic jam. If I weren’t on a bike I would be on a train, but I’m the first to admit that it is probably only the expense of parking which really keeps me to that. It’s because of something like that for all of us that building more roads seems a futile process. Once the road is built, you’d be losing out if you didn’t seize some of its utility for yourself – hence no sooner are roads built than they will be filled.

It’s a bit like the way in which, having finally bought a newer and as it happens, bigger washing machine, I now need to have more clothes to fill it. I’ve upped my holdings of socks and underpants. At least that will only have a one-off extra cost by means of the larger number of partially-worn-out smalls I predecease.

One Response to “Sie stehen nicht im Stau, Sie sind der Stau

  1. Wal-Mart Watch « Floating Life Says:

    […] speaking of other blogs: Sie stehen nicht im Stau, Sie sind der Stau is one of Marcellous’s best yet, in my opinion: original and distinctive. Sometimes I think I […]

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