Mon | Feb 17, 2020

Garth Rattray | Whop, whop, whop, whop, whop

Published:Monday | October 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Nowadays, getting around most of Kingston and St Andrew is a serious and interesting undertaking. It used to be that going from Point A to Point B was a journey; now, it's an adventure.

No longer can you tell anyone that you will be where you need to be in 10 or 15 minutes. When you start driving, your estimated time of arrival (ETA) is a mystery. It's at about this time that you wish that you owned a helicopter - whop, whop, whop, whop, whop.

Planning to get somewhere, almost anywhere in downtown and Greater Kingston is like going through an elaborate game of chess before it even begins. You have to think, "If I go this way, I might encounter this, but if I go that way, I might encounter that. Perhaps they moved the barricade today, or could it be that they will move it tomorrow?" A helicopter would come in mighty handy right now - whop, whop, whop, whop, whop.

During this time of chaotic commuting, as the various barriers, one-way and obstructed streets get changed daily, half-daily or hourly, and the traffic jams shift to compensate, a typical journey (adventure) often goes like this: Intended route Point A to Point B. Oops, there's an obstruction and the flag person appears to be waving the flag in a particular direction ... . Okay ... . Now it's to Point L. Lawks, traffic jam! Let's try turning off here and head for Point O. That's a no-no ... on to Point S.

Got to turn and head for Point T. Oh, good, there's Point B up ahead.

It was A to L, O, S, T and then to B. Lost and/or in strange territory, drivers feel like animals in a zoo with resident onlookers thoroughly entertained by their distressed and forlorn expressions. Jeez, a helicopter would be great right now - whop, whop, whop, whop, whop.


Getting antsy


Several hours into the 'adventure', drivers become rather antsy. Anxiety mounts and tempers flare, while brakes squeak and petrol is wasted. Yesterday, this route was clear; today, it's not, and nobody warned the road users.

This morning we drove this way, but this afternoon it's blocked off. Now we have to go to China and back just to get home. Commute times move from 20 minutes to two or three hours. Children are late for school, and employees are late for work. Meetings begin late so some get cancelled, and getting home is a chore. If only taxis were helicopters - whop, whop, whop, whop, whop.

The other day, I was stuck in the middle of a sea of cars, trucks and buses when an emergency (police) vehicle came from the back of the pack. Siren screaming, horn blaring and blue lights flashing, but there was no where to go. We all tried to 'small up' ourselves and part like the Red Sea. I had to mount the nearby sidewalk, and other vehicles almost made intimate acquaintance with one another. Thankfully, the traffic light ahead went to green and the cops were able to squeeze slowly between us. Now, every emergency vehicle needs to be a helicopter - whop, whop, whop, whop, whop.

In planning for any 'adventure' around Kingston and St Andrew, one must be prepared to wait, adjust the route and be very flexible. It's wise to keep your fuel tank full and your bladder and colon empty before starting out. Also, keep water and snacks in the vehicle. Assure that the air con is in perfect working order, have good, relaxing music available, and keep your cellular phone charged. Don't make promises about your ETA to anywhere; rest assured, you are going to be late ... unless you have a helicopter - whop, whop, whop, whop, whop.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and