To motorists traffic lights are a distinct nuisance.  They would much prefer being able to drive along unimpeded without having to stop repeatedly.  But that’s sheer fantasy.  Without lights who doubts that utter chaos would ensue, with gridlock the condition at most major intersections.

Still, lights, red lights that is, represent the enemy, the bane of automobile drivers.  After coasting along, who welcomes slowing down, coming to a stop, waiting, then getting up to speed and repeating the process one light after another?  What a delight it is rather to look ahead, see a red light turning green and driving on through.  That ranks among life’s small but much appreciated pleasures.  Repeat this over a series of consecutive lights and you feel specially blessed.

But everyone who drives knows that in their neighborhood, or along routes they generally travel, are lights from hell, red lights that tax your patience, that seem to last forever.  Commanding you to stop and wait, they stand as a dreaded obstacle, a humiliating defeat.  There are, of course, occasions when remaining green you whip on by them.  There is immense relief combined with an unmistakable feeling of elation.  But such times are rare.  More commonly, they’ve just turned red as you approach, begin to slow down, then stop, knowing well you’re facing a lengthy wait, perhaps for two minutes or longer (a lifetime when you’re behind the wheel).  Typically this occurs at a major intersection, with vehicles turning and crossing in all directions.  If you happen to be waiting for a turn arrow, you’d best be exceptionally patient.  Unaware of the light sequence you just wait and wonder when your turn will come.  Not only are such green arrows short lived, but they appear only after everyone else has proceeded.

These lengthy waits, while unwelcome, can sometimes be put to good use.  One can relax, drain your coffee cup, apply makeup, examine whether your hair is in place, or light a cigarette.  Do any of these and you’re still likely to find that the light remains red.  Could it be broken, or is it just totally unfair?

Taking note of this infamous location you vow to avoid this route in the future.  And maybe you will.But it’s likely you will be ambushed elsewhere, be stalled at some other hellish intersection.  Once again you will be obliged to stop, then wait and wait some more – a singular form of torture most drivers are subjected to daily.

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