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A Matter of Life and Death

Standing on the platform, you look around at your rivals to estimate your chances. You take one, two, three small steps towards the train tracks, with small time intervals in between not to attract attention. You notice the train approaching, but you’re not the only one. You feel the crowd’s saddle movements towards the track and you know you can’t deceive them anymore. They all push forward to stand so close that their noses are exposed to being bloodily crashed against the moving train.

When the vehicle almost comes to a standstill, you look right, left, and right again. “Which door is the closest?!” you ask yourself in panic. In a moment of doubt, use this formula to enhance your chances against the crowd (Y= your location; D1= first door’s location; D2= second door’s location):

A= Distance between Y and D1 [m]

B= Distance between Y and D2 [m]

Life altering choice:

If A>B, you run towards B.

If B>A, you run towards A.

If A=B, forget the math and sprint!

When everybody chooses their entrance, you all wobble towards it like a colony of penguins during a breeding season. Once the door opens, a person closest to the entrance hastily puts one of his body parts inside the train; usually it’s a foot, a hand, or an extension of a body such as a suitcase or a gentleman walking stick. By the rule of I-can-do-it-if-he’s-done-it-first, other passengers stick whatever they have into the train. Then they impatiently wait for outgoing passengers to squeeze through, jittering like restless insects.

When you finally get in, you call dibs on a seat by throwing your suitcase with a precision of a Belarussian shot putter. But prior to situating your behind on it, you look around to see if there is a better option: a seat with nobody next to you; a seat with nobody next to you and nobody in front of you; a seat as far as possible from that dog; a seat as far as possible from the girls practically screaming about speed dating and vanilla body sprays. No, this one will do. You can now sit with a triumphal smirk on your face and enjoy your fifteen-minute ride.

Published: Univers no 4, 1 November 2012

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