Saturday, December 15, 2007


Housekeeping always comes to our apartment around three. It's at this time of day, six days a week, that I go out for coffee. I like the woman who changes the sheets and towels, but I don't really know what to say to her--nor how to say it--so my gift to the serenity of her workday is to clear out and let her do her job. We did just that today, heading down the road to Le's Café. I haven’t spent nearly the time talking about traffic here in this space as I spend thinking about it here in Saigon (Sunshine blogs about it here). But there's traffic news today: the new helmet law is in effect. In Ho Chi Minh City, motor scooters outnumber cars ten-to-one. They cannot be legally equipped with horsepower enough to outrun the local khaki-uniformed transit police who supposedly get to have the very biggest scooters. Before today, those police ticketed citizens for opaque technical violations within the warp and flow of Saigon's vehicular chaos. Now they also ticket anyone caught riding a two-wheeled motor vehicle without wearing a helmet. I was skeptical about today. We've been seeing posters advertising the oncoming deadline as long as we've lived here. One shows a fractured skull, shaved and sutured, looming on a large billboard just at scooter eye level. Some are even more harrowing. I didn't think scare tactics had a hope in hell of changing the habits of a billion busily scooting southeast Asians, though. Nevertheless, on the way to the café we crossed six streets, and at all six intersections every last man, woman, and child--or all of the above--cruising the streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks wore a brand new, shiny, colorful helmet. But as a pedestrian, I'm no safer. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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