It’s Monday morning and you’ve just left the house, ready for a day’s hard work. You get into the car and off you go.
You’re driving along and you see a set of traffic lights in the distance. But no action needs to be taken, as they are shining green. The colour that symbolises happiness on the road. As you approach the lights, you see that they’re part of a pelican crossing, but there isn’t a pedestrian in sight.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a pedestrian materialises, heading towards the crossing, ready to turn the lights red, on the way to their job at Sod’s Law Corporation. You make eye contact, pleading them not to do the deed. But since you’re a polluting anti-environmentalist by owning a car, your plea fails almost instantly. They outstretch their arm and press the button, signalling the start of a race.
It’s Traffic Lights vs. Car in a race that will take a multitude of seconds, over a distance of many metres. The traffic lights will change at any moment, and no-one knows when. Not even an omniscient God or time travelling alien will know when the change will occur. You have no chance.
There are two decisions to choose from, with both advantages and disadvantages. Option one involves slowing down as you approach the crossing, assuming that the lights will have turned red by the time you get there. The disadvantage to this is that if the lights turn red just as you arrive at the crossing, you will always know that if you had just gone a little bit faster, you could have passed the crossing with time to spare. The cars behind will mock your apprehensiveness and the guilt will never leave. You can feel your dignity leaking out like the air in a dinghy that’s been maliciously attacked by beach crabs.
Option two is the Jeremy Clarkson option, which is going for maximum power, knowing that the quicker you get there, the less chance there is of the lights changing. If the lights turn red very quickly, you must sharply apply the brakes, coming to a stop just before the crossing, and watching as the pedestrian saunters across, wearing the inevitable smug look. They might as well come up to you and begin a lengthy statement where they explain all the disadvantages of your method and take a picture of your depressed face and post it on the Internet with the caption ‘Fail’. There is the added disadvantage of every car behind you seeing you go for it and failing. The embarrassment will never leave.
This decision must be made in an instant and you’re never right. Sod’s Law will always hold and whichever method you try will be fruitless. If you go for the slow option, the lights will remain green for literally hours, but if you go for the fast option, the lights will change faster than Usain Bolt being chased by a murderer wielding an axe while driving a Bugatti Veyron.
Yet if you ever do become a pedestrian, the lights will always take a long time to change. There is enough time for a snail on heroin to crawl across. In slow motion.
And the pedestrian will then get to Sod’s Law Corporation on time, just in time to choreograph the next morning procedure where your attempts will fail once again.