File Sharing

Every morning as I drive my kids to school, the traffic jam reports on the radio take almost as long as the journey from our house to the school.

Now I should add that the school is only a few kilometres away, but still: a few minutes are an eternity in radio terms – trust me, I used to work for the radio and have had to do entire news bulletins covering all the latest world news in two minutes.

As if to intentionally add insult to injury, they have recently started adding the total amount of tailbacks, or “files” as they are known in Flemish. “There are 100 kilometres of ‘files’ today… there are 150 kilometres of ‘files’ in our country right now…”

I didn’t even know that you could find 150 kilometres of road in Belgium. Well, sort of. But I looked it up on Google Earth. You could line up the entire morning tailbacks almost anywhere in the country and find them reaching straight through the country – and back, in some cases. We’re talking ‘files’ of a kind which – if you could move them – could theoretically start in Holland and not end until well into France.

Talk about file sharing.

This morning, the sum of the tailbacks was 180 kilometres. Yesterday it was 185.

And on and on it goes. Listening to the chanting of the same points of reference every day makes you understand that something is seriously wrong. “Between Stroombeek and Wemmel, between Waterloo and Tervuren, at Groot-Bijgaarden…”

In fact, it would probably be easier to have the traffic report highlight the roads that are not congested, and just assume that all the others are.


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