Two minutes is a long time. Well, in certain situations it is anyway. Like standing at my local pedestrian crossing light. Two minutes there is a very long time indeed.
Our main road is a very busy road. Cars whiz by in either direction in great quantities for eighteen hours of every day such that, if the lights weren’t there, you’d be hard-pressed to ever get across the bloody road at all.
And this light used to be fast. Okay, I’ll admit it, it used to be too fast. The instant you pushed the little stainless steel button, the light would change. Not a second’s warning. Cars would grind to a shuddering halt or, as often as not, whiz through helplessly unable to react in time. It was actually quite satisfying.
But somebody must have complained.
They came and adjusted the timing on the light. I saw them do it one morning as I nipped briskly across the road. They bumped it up from zero seconds to 120 seconds…
…and, boy, do I feel the difference.
Two minutes is a long time. You probably don’t think so, I wouldn’t blame you either. But try standing and doing absolutely nothing at all for two minutes. Try it in a cold place - no, try it in the rain.
I try to walk whenever I can. Walking suits me and I like it a lot. This does mean, however, that I can be faced with this pedestrian crossing for, on average, eight minutes every day. I stand there and I watch all the cars sailing past and I stand and I stand and I stand…
And, well, you know me. It is inevitable that I would think a bit while I am standing there. I tend to think about what all this means.
As I often do, when I have too much time on my hands, I have started to compare my experiences at the newly-reset-pedestrian light with my overall life experiences and, valid or not, I have concluded that the pedestrian light is a microcosm of my current life.
So, you know… brace yourself.
The pedestrian light has effectively hobbled me. I can no longer move as fast or as freely as I want to. I am held-up and at the mercy of elements outside of my control. Meanwhile, I have to stand and watch others shooting past, fast, totally on-track, heading straight and unerringly for their destination.
Sometimes the people look out at me as they rush along their way. I can see in their eyes that they would quite like to stop and let me across, to get me out of all this ‘standing in the rain’. But they can’t. If they even slow for me, the cars behind will simply careen into the back of them. They mustn’t stop, ‘cos, if they do, they might end up like me.
Some don’t even stop when the light finally turns in my favour. That’s when anger falls on me and I shout my frustration at the injustice and inequality of it all. The people in the cars don’t understand my passion. All they did was nip through a red pedestrian light. Who are they hurting? Who, of any importance at all, would ever care?
Yes, the light is showing me my life, how it has changed over the past three years, since the recession hit and the banks failed and we gave up our economic sovereignty to Europe. I won’t colour-in the comparisons, you’re not fools. I know you’ll get it.
It's just here I stand, waiting for my light to turn green again, hoping it will someday. Watching the world careening by, from my vantage point in the cold and the rain…
(All right, so I coloured it in a little bit after all.)
…and, as I stand, my only wish is that they’d speed my pedestrian light back up. Not back to being as fast as it was before. I don’t need that, just a tad quicker than it is now.
I wish it would happen soon.
Because I need to find myself a more up-beat analogy.