Traffic, shorts and lottery scams

  • 24/09/2008 02:00
  • 24/09/2008 02:00
Everyone has something to add to the witches brew. Being forced out of your lane by a diablo rojo, or a taxi, or both; drivers who don’t...

Everyone has something to add to the witches brew. Being forced out of your lane by a diablo rojo, or a taxi, or both; drivers who don’t know where the signal switch is and blithely change lanes without looking in their rearview mirrors, forcing you to brake in a rainstorm; light jumpers; the jams created after an accident while the involved drivers wait two hours or more for a traffic cop to arrive and make note of a $50 fender bender; the presidential retinue of SUV’s with outriders, who signal the common herd to make way for their elected representative, and so on.

One companion from Toronto Canada, affirmed that in his home town the city published regular traffic statistics that included the most dangerous intersections, i.e., those that had the most accidents and traffic violations. If Panama was to do the same which set of lights would top the list of infamy?

My own guess in the past would have been 42 and Justo Arosemena, but since the installation of lights at 42 and Avenida Balboa, there might be a new champion in the offing. Stand there for 15 minutes any day of the week, and you will be sure to see at least one driver hurtling along Balboa towards Paitilla, through lights clearly on red. Others traveling westward do a u-turn at an intersection a block away, in spite of the no turn sign, and speed back through the red light. The city funds treasury would swell rapidly if the transit police carried out some spot checks and enforced the law. And what about the much touted cameras at unused tool. Nothing surpasses pain in the pocket book as a teaching tool.

DRESS CODE.Yesterday I dressed formally with tie and jacket to attend the memorial service of John Carlson, historian, raconteur and iconoclast. While sitting in a pew at the Balboa United Church, I wondered what John would have thought if he had seen me and others so conservatively garbed. He was fain to appear at functions in his well worn shorts, and chat unconcernedly with friends clad in suits and ties. One time I met him at a British Embassy function, clad in a suit. “What, no shorts John?” I said. “They were being washed” he replied.

His presence will be truly missed at the monthly “British” luncheon at 1985, where, along with other gringos, he solemnly raised his glass for the loyal toast to the Queen, whose forefathers his fellow countrymen had spurned.

LOTTERY MADNESS. If you ask a Panamanian on Wednesday or Sunday which is more important, loteria, or lunch, most will reply “loteria” and it doesn’t take long for expats to fall into the habit of supporting one of the country’s most thriving industries. Which makes Panama a prime target for fraud artists. Beware of e-mail messages from Britain and Belgium telling you that you have won a million and there is a lawyer standing by to help you collect. It just ain’t so. Oh, and the lawyer wants around $6,000 for his services.

Lo Nuevo
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