Jam: the food of gods. Am I wrong? I mean, think about it: we’re basically programmed to love the taste of sweet fruits for their sugar content. Whether or not this is to our detriment in this stage in our evolution is beside the point. Add a whole bunch of extra sugar to concentrated fruit, and you get a foodstuff precision engineered to send our taste buds into a tailspin. You can argue all you like about how bad this is for our teeth, but the fact remains that jam is the reigning queen of condiments, not to mention a fine way of preserving fruit.
Now, here’s the real question: why have we included the word ‘jam’ in a phrase referring to the most wretched of experiences, the traffic jam? Couldn’t we have called it something else – traffic chutney, perhaps? That would be a whole other argument along pretty similar lines, chutney being an inspired concept in its own right, but at least traffic engineers could rest easy knowing that they hadn’t befouled the name of the heavens’ premier toast topping.
If I was a traffic engineer based near Melbourne, my first order of business would be to find another term for traffic jams. Not that I really have much idea about what people in that line of work get up to, or whether it’s reasonable to think they’d have a say in such matters, but they’d have to be more empowered to make this change than your average Joe. If you’re able to compile a traffic impact assessment, surely you’ve got the ability to influence common language usage around related topics.
My second order of business, needless to say, would be entirely eradicating traffic jams (or whatever they are now known as) from existence. Granted, this might end up being my life’s work, and perhaps it’d all be in vain – I can’t deny that it seems like a rather tall order for any one person. But at least I’d be helping build a brighter future in which the only things that gets jammed are berries, apricots, rhubarb and the like.