Thursday, 9 October 2008

BELINDA CARLISLE: "Leave A Light On For Me"

I could not help but smiling when I realized that the flickering headlights of the truck that had approached me at the opposite side of the road had the same meaning as they have in my home country Belgium, thousands of kilometers away from Singapore. A few seconds earlier already, a car had signaled with its lights in exactly the same manner. It was broad daylight, so I had not forgotten to put the lights of my car on, like it happens to me all too often. That would have been the reproaching meaning of the flickering lights at the time of dusk or dawn, but now the hot afternoon sun was shining very bright. It was therefore excluded that this signaling was the subtle, yet irritated gesture of condemnation by a fellow driver, pointing his pundit finger at an absentminded danger on the road, who – unlike him of course – forgot to switch on the car lights. I always thought there must exist some sort of Darwinistic explanation why some people find pleasure in pointing to other people’s mistakes, thereby pretending to act out of concern and with the intention to help them, but instead they radiate an air of superiority, as they implicitly convey the message that they would never had make such an obvious mistake themselves.

Anyway, this theory would sure not apply in this case. These flickering headlights in the afternoon sun were different in nature. At this time of the day, there was no need to put car lights on in the first place.

I saw the police officers at the road side a little bit further. And that’s when I realized… There must be some kind of universal traffic code out there, which passes any language barriers, which crosses any borders, and which became applicable in each and every jurisdiction ever since the first car was invented. The code is like a secret password that is passed on from generation to generation of vehicle drivers, without ever being written down. It is not documented in traffic code textbooks, it’s never a question in a driver’s license test, but yet every driver is supposed to understand the meaning of the signal whenever it presents itself. The flickering headlights of a vehicle in the opposite direction… They are a warning signal that you are approaching a police patrol very soon. You can then still slow down in case you would be driving a bit too fast, or comb your hair instead, to make you look good should you nonetheless insist on them having your picture.

Now would what Darwin think of that?! That is what I call unconditional solidarity. A mysterious bond between drivers, an expression of the group feeling towards a common enemy, “us” versus “them”, “the good guys” and “the bad guys”, the “cowboys” against the “Indians”. The road cowboys, in this case.


cc of Quaint Melody said...

I agree, it's so easy fir those to stand on their high pedestal pointing and act oh-so-mighty. May they never fall down on the humanland.

Thanks for dropping by my blog. :)

Chasing-Thoth said...

But the saying goes: "pride comes before a fall?" So how? Haha