It's 3AM. I am at the airport waiting for my flight. My hands are shaking. But not from the cold.
There are some things that you take for granted without even realizing it. Things that have become so ingrained in your daily life that you don't give them a second thought. At least not until something happens, something that just makes you realize what a mistake it was. Like what happened to me today.
I was at the mall near my hotel, and I had just finished with my shopping. There is a free shuttle service at the hotel that drives us to wherever we want to within a 5 mile radius, but the weather was pretty good, so I decided to take a walk back instead. It was no more than 2km away, it would probably take me like 20 minutes. So I began walking.
The pavements were mostly empty, most people got around by cars it seems. I passed a couple of minor traffic junctions that were pretty empty. 5 minutes later I reached this major traffic junction that was pretty busy with cars. I pressed the button and waited for the pedestrian light to turn green. After a minute it did. I started walking. Then halfway, it turned red.
K for the non local readers, this is how the pedestrian lights in Singapore work. Green man comes on, you walk. Then the green man starts blinking, signaling that it would turn red soon, after which you shouldn't be still crossing. It makes sense. Red means stop, green means go. Now back to my story.
The damn light turn red when I half way across. Yes it was blinking, but it was freaking RED. K I kinda panicked. And I stopped once I reached the mid point, between the two opposing lanes. I figured maybe it would turn green after a while or something. (The pedestrian lights only turn green when someone presses the button)
It did not. I could see drivers in the cars staring at me , wondering what the hell an Indian guy was doing right smack n the middle of the freaking road. They probably thought I was crazy. And they wouldn't be far from the truth, I was on the verge of losing my mind. Then a few cars started honking at me. As if trying to goad me into running across and possibly getting run down.
It was pretty scary to be honest. A lesser man would have probably just lost his mind and either tried to dash across or break down in tears. But I remained calm. I closed my eyes and tuned out the horns. The stares. Then I opened my eyes. I realized what I needed to do.
I waited till the coast was fairly clear, and then I calmly make a mad dash for it. I had made it, but barely. There was a truck that might have hit me if I had been any slower. K it was like 20 metres away and slowing down, but it could have suddenly accelerated or something alright.
But yes, only after that I realized that the blinking red man means you can keep walking, it was our equivalent of the blinking green man. Which I still think doesn't make any sense, but whatever.
So that was my ordeal, which by the grace of God, I have emerged unscathed. It did teach me a valuable lesson. Not to take anything for granted when you are in unknown territory. It's a lesson I will never forget.