PICTURE IS "MIA"
Bajaj driver relaxing a bit before getting into the action
My Jakarta clean driving record went up in a giant puff of diesel exhaust the other day. I managed to get in three fender benders in about 20 minutes. My first one occurred when I refused to yield my position to the scourge of Jakarta roads, the public transport minivans. We began "the dance" properly enough. But it soon became evident that this merge was not going to end well as the minivanguy continued to pull into my lane and I continued to not yield. Laws of physics took over "when two moving objects attempt to occupy the same space ...." and the side of his car hit my front side bumper. The driver stopped and looked menacingly at me. I threw up my hands and did other stupid angry guy stuff. He then pulled over and checked the side of his vehicle for damage - of which there was about a 5 years worth of un-repaired fender benders. I got out of my car grumping and growling. He eventually conceded that the bump did no new damage to his vehicle and after a bit of drama scurried off to try someone elses patience. It was stupid all around - but these vehicles are one aspect of Jakarta traffic that I have not yet come to terms with.
Frazzled and rattled I carried on with my afternoon ritual. This involves driving to a few places all within less than a mile radius but takes a ridiculous amount of time because Jakarta traffic is stupider than guys when they get angry. My next annoyance occurred while I was dealing with the guards at the security stop for the neighborhood where our exercise club is located. I go here almost everyday and the guys act like they have never seen me before - actually I go through several times a day because I take Alicia there, leave and go hang out with Emmerson and then return to pick her up, exit and then enter yet again to go workout myself. This particular time they had some new thing where they actually made me present identification - the first time in two years. I found my wallet that was buried in my gym bag, and pulled out various cards for them to peruse. They saw my club member card and asked me why I didn’t have a sticker for my car. I told them because I was never issued one. This seemed to satisfy their desire to seem secure and they waved me through. As I was fumbling around with various papers, cards and my wallet, I took my foot off the brake to go forward. What I did not realize was that my car was in neutral and perched up a bit on the speed bump that they have at the security check. When I took my foot off the brake the car lurched backward into a motor scooter that was positioned about two inches off my back fender (space is a very relative concept). I stopped to survey the damage. The guy on the scooter was not concerned at all because nothing had happened to his scooter. But the security guys were trying to convince him otherwise - perhaps indicating “hey this is a grand opportunity for you to work this guy for some cash” - which indeed it was. They kept shaking various lose items on his bike implying that I was to blame - that most of the things they were fiddling with were moveable parts was irrelevant. The scooter guy just waved me on and I proceeded humbly on my way.
Dejected and disheartened I pulled into the downstairs parking lot at the club, drove to the spot where I typically park and began my pulling in ritual – which I have done hundreds of time without incident. But this was a special evening for me, and my car came to a sudden halt accompanied by an unpleasant crunching sound. I had miscalculated my turn and my bumper had crunched into the parking pillar.
Fortunately the guy who had the car before me decked out all the bumpers with reinforcement material so no physical damage was done, unfortunately I can not say the same for my emotional and psychological state. Jakarta traffic claims another victim.