Surviving a Traffic Jam

By Christina Kim - February 16, 2015


"Traffic is horrendous!"

This is probably one of the most commonly uttered or heard phrases this whole week with the festive season; the Lunar Chinese New Year being a week away and cars are piling up on the road at any time of the day.
Peak hours of heading to work and school are perhaps the worst, with cars lining on the road in that haphazard manner making it hard to tell if it is even in any form of pattern, crawling at a pace of an inch or two at a time.

A journey on the road which would usually take approximately half an hour could end up spanning for more than an hour, and if you were like me, two hours even with the intermediary traffic while crossing through densely populated areas of residences and towns.
I think frustrations, anxiety, anger, impatience are emotions filling the air, accompanied by drops of sweat trickling down the forehead and perhaps even a word or two (maybe more) in expressing their displeasure aloud in the car (a better left censored greeting to avoid mind disturbance to the ears of the recipient).

Having grown up in the city; and in the capital of Malaysia no less, has left me being tuned to the massive traffic hailing the roads all over the city and festive seasons just spell disaster for the road.
It makes sense too, with the city being the home to a large population (KL is definitely the nation's most populated city) which grows as years go by due to the increasing job opportunities. The surge in the investment from other countries contribute largely to the mushrooming residential areas to accommodate the swelling population.
It is a norm in most major cities around the world, and it is something that most city-bred have been accustomed to every single day.

Traffic is getting worse though, especially with the narrowing of roads due to construction and diversion, putting accidents on the rise at the same time.
It is important to be mindful while driving on the road, to ensure the safety of others and ourselves at the same time while on the way to our destination.

It is easy to lose one's cool on the road, especially when one is rushing to work or to an important appointment.
Words less desirable to the ears are often uttered in times of anger, and negative emotions fill one's mind.
One thing leads to another, and sometimes as anger and impatience elude one's sight and senses, one would then drive in an emotional state which usually means less sensible.
Road rage, road accidents follow, making traffic much worse to begin with.
Words uttered then could stimulate more anger and annoyance, hurt and hatred fill the recipient and the list just goes on.

What most of us do not realize is that majority of people would be affected by the feelings they had when they were trapped in the traffic jam and would then carry it with them as they head to their destination, especially when this happens first thing in the morning as one starts the day with frustration.
Needless to say, accidents or mishaps on the road would then make it much worse.

Imagine meeting your friend or a colleague who just came in after a road accident, or had his side mirror hit by a motorcycle who rode off.
He/she will not be that pleasant when relating the incident to you, and worse, if something else goes wrong at work, that very same person would be probably an extremely moody person and you would do better staying away from him.
What if that person shares your desk?
What if that person is your boss?
Be ready for a day filled with anxiety as one treads on egg shells the entire day when dealing with the same person, and the mood could be contagious throughout the office.

It is a reality that most of us may not realize, as it is such a customary scene that one just learns to deal with rather than think about it in depth.
It is a ripple effect; one person's bad mood/day could in turn spurn a chain of negative events and even affect others, and all these, because of a long crawl on the road.
The same goes for the after-work traffic, which could tend to be even more hectic as one longs to get home after a long day at work. Hunger pangs and the desire to reunite with loved ones along with fatigue, is definitely not a wonderful combination.

None of us is immune to having unpleasant feelings when things don't go our way, and when we are not able to be in control of the situation. It is normal to experience such emotions as we are mortals after all.

However, traffic jam is always a situation (maybe even something most of us experience on a daily basis) and it is important to be mindful and maintain an open attitude to the situations that occur to us.
We cannot foresee all that is about to happen to us; we are not all clairvoyants, and therefore there is no way to be prepared for something which we cannot see.
We can, though, control our mind and the way we behave or respond to a situation that happened on the spot.
While traffic situations are not totally unforeseen, as city dwellers are conditioned, to, well, in a way, live with it as part of their lives though the flow of the traffic could sometimes be worse or better on certain days.
Again, we could still somewhat predict and not totally be clueless about the same routes which we are heading on every single day, for at least 5 days a week.

It is easy to lose our cool, and it is always harder to maintain our peace when things do not go our way, being humans.

Take a moment and think about it though; does it affect anyone else when we are frustrated inside our own cars?
Who feels that frustration?
Does anyone care if we are so annoyed with the driver who just swerved into our lane dangerously, without an indicator as heads up (with due respect to us) beforehand?
Who feels that anger the most?
Who is affected by the annoyance and the "vocabulary words" used when talking to ourselves in our own cars?
In the end, it is us ourselves who feel the pain, the anger, the frustration and the negativity that tags along from the undesirable situation (or so, perceived by ourselves).
So, why do we do that to ourselves, when we are confined within that enclosed space of our cars?

Why do we slam on the horns to just tell the whole world that we are just frustrated that we are stuck in a crawl?
They hear us, but do they care?
They probably end up thinking that these honking folks are just immature (or in many more forms that one could imagine).
Why do that to ourselves?
Do we really hate ourselves that much?

The point is, traffic jams are totally not fun, but it CAN be, if we want to tell ourselves that.
It is all in the Mind.
It is all our Choice.
We can make the most out of the situation, and just go with the flow.

Unless we have a car or a futuristic gadget which could elevate our car into the air or straight into the ground, burrowing through the traffic underground, we are pretty much stuck in the traffic jam.
We could not have done much anyway, so why not make ourselves happy?
Why allow frustration to settle in ourselves?

Perhaps, we may find traffic jams less harrowing as we allow ourselves to live in happiness rather than let the negative feelings rule our minds.

I am no saint, and being mortal, I do not enjoy traffic jams anymore than you do in the past, but these days, I no longer find it as annoying or frustrating as before, simply because, I chose to cheer myself up and even see it as a fun situation sometimes.
I am not crazy; like I said, unless we can choose to evacuate in possible ways, or leave the house later, most of the time we are following the traffic hours along with most of the population.
(Not everyone gets flexible schedules at work, though some do, but that does not make them immune to traffic jams forever either).

So, since it's a situation that we can't always avoid, why not just go with the flow, and not dwell in negative emotions?
Don't let it get to us.

Wonder how I survive and keep myself smiling despite the ungodly wait to get to my desired destination?
Just a few simple things that one could do, for a thought?

1. Smile when you see a crawl
(Yes, condition the mind to not view it as a negative situation).

2. Traffic jam means I get more time in the car, and I get to listen to the radio or my favorite track again!
More time to listen to my playlist and put that favorite song of mine on replay (and replay) mode!

3. Sing along to the tunes!

4. Maybe dance a little, and just laugh at your goofy self?

5. Watch the cars around you (of course, keep your eyes on the wheel and the brakes/gears - make sure it's not in Drive mode).
People watching is fun, but hey, car watching can be something to look forward to too!

6. Think of Happy Thoughts!
Think of something which was really funny, and made you laugh.
Laugh over it all over again, and it will lift up your spirits.

7. Say a little prayer, pray for the people who are late to work, who are frustrated, who are rushing for an emergency, who are involved in the accident which caused the massive traffic jam, or the car which broke down and the poor driver who's sweating because the A/C was off in our typical climate and being so embarrassed to be the cause of the traffic jam.
Pray that people will not drive dangerously, recklessly or cursing others on the road.
Pray that everyone will get to their destinations safely.
Pray that peace be with everyone.
Pray that God will spread His Love to everyone.
Pray for God's blessings and for the world to be peaceful.

8. DO NOT Text, or talk on the phone though while on the road, even if you are stopping.
DO NOT browse through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or your social media accounts, or even check and reply to your emails and messages
It may be stationary, but our eyes should be ALWAYS on the road.
No exception.

Lastly, Think of the funny jokes you are about to share with your colleagues/classmates/family/friends - wherever you are heading to about how goofy you are in your car this morning.
You actually danced inside your car?
Yeah, you did, and it was really fun!

All these should be done when it's a complete halt, and there should be always attention to the car in front and also on your own wheel, of course, this definitely goes without saying.

Be a mindful driver, drive responsibly, and have a little fun sometimes.
It is not always the end of the world when there is an obstruction on the road, or a crawl on the road.
We always get through it, we know, and we always will.

Besides, we are not the only ones on the road.

Be thankful that we have company of many drivers around us that we get to meet on the road, and that we are not stranded alone on a dark and deserted stretch.

So, why worry or frustrate ourselves when we know, like the rain, it is just a phase and that it will clear?

Enjoy a little, and give way once in a while to some of the cars.
Smile at others, smile at ourselves.

It is always a choice, and I choose to be happy, and if this is crazy, then what is normal anymore?
What is your choice?

Make it a good choice, and you will see that it is no longer as bad as you think *winks*

Have a great journey everyone!

  • Share:

You Might Also Like