Blogvember post 20 … a rambling, ramshackle and ranting post

This morning, I managed to get a take away coffee before work. The logistics of this seem overwhelmingly simple. This would actually be overwhelmingly simple in other city. But not in Canberra. The trajectory I have to travel to make this occur, is worthy of the search for the Higgs Boson participle. It is more complex than pure maths, requires more coordination and planning than the mineral resources rent tax and is more frustrating than can be imagined.

Keep calm and drink coffee

The reasons for this are many and varied. They are mostly too tedious and boring to go into, but some of them are taboo. There are things in Canberra that are not to be mocked. The coffee and the dearth of good coffee in Canberra is well documented. Some people care, more people don’t. The ones whose eyes glaze over when you start up about coffee, are the people with whom you immediately change the subject and talk about something else.

The drive to get the coffee is the part when the frustration begins. It is not done to mock drivers in Canberra. In places like Sydney, mockery of other drivers, other pedestrians and indeed other commuters of all kinds is sport – love your new train marshals by the way – WTF?

Not here. Here it is not the done thing to complain about the fact that Canberra is full to bursting with drivers who are not able to cope with our ‘so called’ peak-half hour. The peak is lengthening slowly as the city grows and I am told that there are genuine bottlenecks that rival the M4 or the Westgate Bridge. As they all occur in places I have never been, I cannot vouch for the veracity of these claims. It seems that these changes to the road conditions and the congestion suit not the drivers of Canberra with whom I am forced to share the road at the hour of eight. Not that I am at all allowed to mock, criticise or otherwise disparage other Canberrans for their driving, heaven forfend.

So having made the arduous journey that should take all of ten minutes but frequently takes much much longer due to delays caused by, lets call them blockages in my path. These delays are caused by failures to understand that at an intersection with a left turning slip lane, if the traffic is proceeding straight ahead to your right, and a set of lights holds all the other traffic from entering the roadway, then it is perfectly ok to just turn left after checking that you are not about to mow down the occasional wayward school girl who happens to be using the pedestrian crossing – noting that the view of the crossing is clear from at least 50 or 100 metres away so it is not actually essential to even slow down to take the corner if there are no pedestrians nearby.

What actually occurs is that 60% of the cars come to a complete halt to observe the traffic passing to their right before proceeding to accelerate once more onto the empty roadway. If you did this in Sydney you would receive a blast of horn or worse a car right up your clacker. Anticipation and using all the available green time mean nothing here. For too long have the drivers of Canberra have had wide open streets with no competition. Lots of them have absolutely no competitive edge with the exception of instances of merging, when they are all politeness – after you, no really, after you – would someone please just go!

Worse, not that I would know about how to draw attention to these things, is that the drivers of Canberra who cannot cope with the two sides of a roundabout being in use at one and the same time. Or indicating. Or giving way to the right. Or just actually driving straight ahead and just concentrating on where you are going!

It would take longer in Sydney to drive twice as far even in peak hour some days. Now toleration is my middle name and the philosopher in me understands the reasons for this behaviour, but all of it impedes me from getting to the coffee!

Mornings where I actually manage to remain cool and spend the enforced extra travel time listening to Emma Ayres telling me wonderful stories and playing nice music, I am greeted by cheery baristas who live for coffee.

Then all that remains is to drive the other ten kilometres to the office, which is another taboo about good coffee outside the narrow band surrounding Civic. How I wish we had public transport that worked, then at least I could just read. My blood pressure would probably be much more reasonable too.