Some years ago the government finally decided to do something about all the time lost to traffic jams, but as always it proved meaningless, and kept showing that desperate people take advantage of anything. Many times a week a crazy idiot would purposefully slow down, stop in the lane or even cause some minimum crash so they could spend more hours in the road so he would receive more compensation for the hours spent in traffic. Most of the time they’d be caught quickly and forced to do some little work in jail for the intentional delay, but the jams still monetarily benefited all of us who would be there, sitting inside our hot cars until the problem was solved and we resumed our long, exhausting commute.
The money was okay. It was something. We were all very happy that we rightfully got more money for time we take from our daily lives to drive to work to feed the system and keep everything functioning. But eventually we noticed that money really meant nothing when we were still trapped for hours in a dooming inescapable desert of asphalt and engines.
My fingers curled up around the wheel tightly, my chest started to hurt badly again. Drops of sweat fell from my aching forehead, muscles tense as I writhed from the exhaustion I felt. It was the unbearable Heat, again. It was just another summer work day, wasn’t it? How did we get used to it? How did we dare to accept this? How much did the heart attack rate go up? How many of us died because of the stress? How many of these accidents blamed on greedy people who wanted all of us stuck in traffic were actually innocent poor people dying victim of the Heat?
Nowadays aspirins are a public health requirement, as important as condoms are. We eat them like candy. I take a bunch of them and swallow them with a dry mouth. I can barely taste the bitter artificial strawberry flavor, yet it’s efficient enough to make me salivate to force the pills down my throat. But today I feel like it’s not going to be enough, because I find myself crying. Or is it sweat, too?
The frustration is unbearable and it makes my heart ache. The car feels like a lone metal prison. I am alone, I’m alone with hundreds and thousands of people who are as alone as I am, and we know we are at the limits of our sanity and if one of us goes down he takes all of us down with him. We all do our best to wait, wait, wait, and let the hours pass by while we suppress every bad thought that could spark the end of us. No radio, no music, no small talk can soothe the doom the Heat brings.
There’s no way of accelerating this machine, it’s so slow it feels static, it makes you feel the most despairing fear. There’s no escaping it. Clink, clink. Even if bolts and screws jump and fall off it’s no biggie and they are easily replaced, yet… taking a decision like that it’s one of the few autonomous choices we can ever make in a doomed system like this. Even if it doesn’t affect the bigger picture in any meaningful way… I close my eyes, I think, and I wonder…
I wonder how it feels to be free.
I wish I had the courage of the steppe nomads conquering on horseback, I wish I had the dreams of the italian futurists with their lightspeed-fast aluminum machines. I want to feel the fresh breeze dragging my sweat away, I want to see ever-changing colors and shapes as I accelerate into the world. I want my body to be so light that it becomes translucent at the shine of the moon and stars. I want velocity to break my corporeality and only carry my joyful ecstatic soul. My heart aches, but now it also burns, and I hope it leaves a trail of fiery angry flames as I step on the gas…
And I drift away.