The phrase Jam Tomorrow means ‘some pleasant event in the future, which is never likely to materialize’. This derives from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1871, in which the White Queen offers Alice ‘jam to-morrow’. The phrase caught on quickly and jam tomorrow became a synonym for a ‘pie in the sky’ promise of good things in the future.
‘Jam tomorrow’ for people living in this part of the world is jam free roads and hassle free journey. Possibly, traffic jams are here to stay and our tomorrow will continue to be jammed.
They say the universe is expanding. And that should help with the traffic. Our traffic is also mounting but roads are getting choked. We have cars but we don’t have expressways. “The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man”, wrote Marshal McLuhan, father of Electronic Age, in his pioneering book Understanding Media.
So, being in a jam, shelled in your car, is not an ordinary feeling or experience. It is like being held up in a vast space, which may probably look like a blackhole. You feel blind, breathless and bushed. Like a helpless and lifeless creature, you see no getaway. You are just stuck in a noisy pell-mell. A troublesome tailback. You are irritated, feel trapped but still struggle to make ends meet, reach destinations and meet deadlines. Nevertheless, with all desperate efforts to get out, your car proves to be ‘a convenient place to sit out traffic jams’. You traffic in nostalgia, you traffic in thoughts, and you traffic in all that you observe around. The details of your journey become out of the ordinary.
However, a pragmatic reflection can also develop when you are stuck in a traffic jam. Like German Scientist Sebastian Thru who said, “I’ve developed my passion for cars that drive themselves from being stuck in traffic for many, many, many hours of my life. I don’t know what it adds up to, but I feel like I’ve lost a year or two just in traffic. That’s big to me. That’s a lot of time, a lot of money that I just lose on the road”.
Going by the time we spend in traffic jams every day, it amounts to loss of many productive years of our life. The student travelling to exam centre. A patient referred to hospital. A school kid waiting to be in class. A teacher rushing for students. And many more. All squander time in honking anarchy, dusty ambience and frozen travel. We bump, we bother, we bluster. All that leaves us in a flap.
Bottomline: There are all the reasons to visualize this fracas. To saunter roads of soul and soil. To take detours you had never imagined. To face these gridlocks. Every morning. Every evening. To and fro. Here and there. Damn them for all that they deliver to us. Anxiety. Anger. And irretrievable time loss. Our precious automobile carapace becomes our torture cell. You want to get down and leave it behind. You want to move on and meander in silence. But there is only murky noise and no road ahead. There is no space to inch. You only wish for unlocking the traffic jam in everybody’s head: Our politicians, administrators, policy makers, engineers, pedestrians and of course, drivers holding the steering. Or else, you know your tomorrow is going to remain Jam Tomorrow. Virtually.