Law of the Urban Jungle…..Traffic Lights

There is NEVER a red light when you need one.

Okay, I suppose this holds true in rural and suburban jungles as well.  But it is more than just a matter of perception.  The perception being that you really want the red light so if feels like you never get one.  That, in truth, you still get the same ratio of red to green as always.  I disagree.  I know because I’ve counted.

I have a habit of counting things and once I get started, it is sometimes hard to stop.  I spent months counting red and green lights as I drove too and from work.  I did it again after moving to Nebraska.  My less than scientific findings were the same.  On average, it’s about 50/50.  If there are an odd number of lights, that odd one is more likely to be red than green.  Occasionally, it may be more 52/48.  But really, it’s pretty even. 

Unless you really want a red light.  The light was either green, just changing to green as I approached, or red and as soon as I came to an almost-stop it turned green.  So, for all intent and purposes, there were no red lights.  Because I’m weird that way, I count lights again.  And every time I realize I need a red light, as soon as I make that realization, the red lights stop.  From that moment on its green all the way.

I wouldn’t mind knowing what force controls this phenomenon.  It defies logic.  It should not possible.   It is violating its own statistical nature.  But it happens.  I’ve proven it repeatedly from practical experience.  I do not doubt its veracity at this point.  I envision Terry Pratchett style personification of Fate or Chance or Lady Luck sitting at a giant monitoring station.  Key phrases are programmed into a thought monitoring system.  “Dang it, did I leave that at home, please let me get a red light so I can check,” or any variation on that phrase will ping for her attention.  She will throw a switch and, from then on, green lights rule the road.

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