Monday, March 9, 2009

A little wiser after lessons learnt from the floods last week

WERE you caught in the great floods of March 3? Consider yourself lucky if you were not among the thousands stranded in the city that evening. Consider yourself even luckier if you were not in the floodwaters in Jalan Ipoh, sitting on your car roof waiting to be rescued.

But if you had been stuck in the jam later that night like I was, you are now likely to be a little wiser in hindsight and realise that in each adversity, there are lessons to be learnt.

For me, I have learnt not to leave the office immediately after a downpour and never, ever, park my car in any basement car park within smelling distance of the Klang and Gombak rivers.

I have also learnt that it is pointless to try to outsmart those stuck in jams by seeking out lanes of moving traffic. Underestimate their collective intelligence and you will end up -- like I did -- circumnavigating the city looking for a shortcut from Bangsar to Gombak only to return to the starting point two hours later and half a tank of petrol short.

Instead, you should quietly join the queue like everyone else and do not get angry or frustrated by the actions of the smarter few who used pavements and bus lanes to forge ahead.

I will also not rely on electronic signboards, especially those with ambiguous messages like "Trafik Perlahan di Lebuhraya Mahameru-Tun Razak. Kelewatan Di Jangka" (Slow traffic at Mahameru-Tun Razak expressway, delay expected), especially when traffic in most parts of the city was already at a standstill.

There is also a lesson in humility to be learnt when stuck in flood-induced jams. It doesn't matter two hoots whether you drive a RM250,000 speedster or a RM2,500 boneshaker for which you could claim twice its worth in rebates soon. Behind the wheel in knee-deep floodwater, all men (and women) are treated equal.

I will, from now, be more forgiving towards those who promised to alleviate flash floods in the capital city because although the promises sound good, very little could be done in reality -- be it cleaning the drains, building retention ponds or deepening the rivers.

The same issues will probably be raised again during the floods next March and when the time comes, we can conveniently look skywards and once again call it an act of God.

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