The pedestrian crossing is historically a friend of the walker, but woe betide anyone who attempts to cross in Singapore at the wrong time. This rule even applies when the road is completely barren, we must answer to the man of light.
As soon as this omnipotent entity turns red, the road becomes a mysterious fourth dimension for Singaporeans. They must content themselves with pacing around the safety of the pavement like caged lions until the invisible barrier is lifted in a flash of green light and it is considered safe to traverse to ‘the other side.’
The crossing police will be glad to hear that this law is also upheld by the drivers who become temporary vigilantes if they spot anyone trying to make a break across the road. I was once beeped by a car 15 metres away.
Mercifully there is also a countdown which, despite resembling a nuclear clock, also ensures that you do not caught in the purgatory middle zone when the traffic is unleashed.
If you decide to defy the red man, there are two possible outcomes.
The more pleasant one is that you emerge from the 5 second sprint across the road to a hero’s welcome, adorned by rapturous applause and hearty back slaps as if you were some war hero returning from the first day of the Somme.
Some pedestrians may even be inspired by this feat of bravery and seek to emulate your exploits by also running the gauntlet.
Alternatively, you could complete the crossing only to be faced with a wall of horrified faces which suggest you have just run across the road completely naked shouting ‘I was breast-fed by Chairman Mao!’
It’s a lottery out there.