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Monday, February 05, 2007

That's just how I stroll, baby...

Here's a very brief summary of my weekend: I nursed a cold, I watched André and Wonfuzius (for like 3 hours) while they put bits of trees into a wood chipper, I went to a Blumentopf concert (for free!), and last but not least, Blogger kinda made me change to "new" Blogger and I think it fixed my umlaut problem (äÄ,öÖ,üÜ). I'll let you decide which one of these activities was the most fun for me.

Now that I have that out of the way, I'd like to address a completely different matter.

On the way home from the concert last night, the subject of my unwillingness to run after vehicles of public transportation (busses and trains) came up. It's something for which I'm often ridiculed and I don't really recall if I've ever explained my stance on the matter. Quite honestly, I'm fairly certain that the explanation will probably lead to even more ridicule...

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Alright, so first I have to backtrack a bit and explain my concept of "settling" to you. So, back when I was at Smith, I would get laughed at a lot because after lunch, I would head off really early in order to get to my next class. I mean, the campus isn't even really that big... so people started asking me,

"Hey, why do you always leave for class so early?"

and then I would have to explain to them that I need at least 15-20 minutes to be in the room where the class takes place, so that I can settle. I can stroll in, have my choice of seating, get out my stuff, go to the bathroom, take a power cetera and so forth. I just needed that extra bit of downtime to acclimate to my surroundings.

The same thing tends to apply to travelling. I like to show up to the airport much much earlier than the suggested time...because I need to settle and I hate the feeling of being rushed. I'm guaranteed to forget something if I'm rushing. If I'm not rushing, I'm less likely to forget something, but even if I do, I've worked in a bit of extra time into the equation to amend the situation -- or at least come to terms with the fact that there's really nothing I can do about it.

Which brings me to running after busses and trains.

I'm not anti-running-after-busses-and-trains as much as I am anti-unnecessary-running-in-general. In my opinion, the former just happens to be a categorized under the latter (in many cases).

Necessary running would be like exercise and getting away from someone/something chasing you. Or maybe you're chasing someone (but even then I think you'd have a pretty good reason to want to do they killed your mom or something).

I suppose that most people (and I'm really just guessing here) look at (or have a rough mental picture of) the bus/train schedule to find out the last possible bus/train that they would have to catch in order to make it to their appointment on time. Then they try to leave the house as late as possible as to minimize the amount of time at the bus stop/train station actually waiting for the bus/train.

André, for instance, really likes it when the bus/train is approaching the stop just as he is arriving. He hates waiting, and will in fact, walk to the next bus stop on the route if there's a wait of more than 5 minutes. This almost always inevitably leads to running after some stupid vehicle and since we didn't factor in missing the bus/train...we have to either catch this particular bus/train or be late.

I love going places with André, I just hate getting there with him.

When I have somewhere important to be, the very first thing I do is factor in an extra 30 minutes from the time that I actually have to be at my appointment. That's 15 minutes of time to figure out where I am (in case I get lost...and I probably will) and then 15 minutes of settling in time. Then, I figure out which train/bus I would have to take to get there 30 minutes early...and then I actually take the train/bus before that one.

I can walk to the station at a leisurely pace, pleased with the fact that I don't need to be in a hurry, because I've got plenty of time. Even if I missed this train, I can always take the next one...

This is why I (sometimes) laugh (inwardly) at people who run after these things like maniacs.

Is it really imperative that you make it to that particular train, especially when there's another perfectly good one coming in another 5 minutes? If the answer is yes, well, then you need to plan better.

Hence, I always calculate into my travel plans that I'm not fast and that I don't want to be rushed. I don't mind waiting for the next one. I could buy a beer in the meantime...or listen to a good song two times in a row!

That said, there are some instances in which I will run for a bus/train.

ONE: When there's a speed/distance ratio in my favor, meaning that the bus is within a certain distance, where I know that I could run to the bus without having to pound on the doors to make the driver open up, avoiding the possibility that he/she will ignore me and leave me standing there looking like a fool. For instance, take the Bus 5 at Siemersplatz. If the bus is driving though that intersection, I have to at least be at that wine shop on the corner, before I'll even consider running for the bus. Anything before that is simply a lost cause.

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Where B= Bus, R= Raven, H= Bus Stop

TWO: Inter-city/long distance trains. I get motion sickness on long train rides (or long rides of any kind -- long meaning over an hour or two). I'd rather just get it over with in one shot, so if I'm behind schedule I'll run.

THREE: If it's a weekday and the bus/train is the last regular bus/train of the day, meaning that there's like an hour before the night bus starts running. This also applies to bus/train lines that run three times an hour or less. Sometimes this involves a lot of chosing between the lesser of some evils. Take for example in Dresden, where my late night choices were to either run like mad to catch a tram, wait 40 minutes for the next tram or walk 40 minutes to get home. And actually I ended up just walking home a lot...the benefit being that I was sober by the time I got there. In fact, my sobriety level is often key in making this decision.

FOUR: When I'm with other people, but this is mostly against my will. I try to keep a few paces ahead of the people in my group, because I never know when they're gonna just break out into a run. They never say a word, they just take off running, whereas I'm thinking "Aw, fuck, we're running now?! Great, just beer is spilling everywhere. Screw you guys." I don't know how keeping a step or two ahead of them helps, but it keeps me mentally alert knowing that at anytime we might just have to cheese it.

If I'm on my way to meet up with a friend, I might pick up the pace a bit if I'm running late, but really only if it's Toby (who's going to be at the meeting point at least 15 minutes early) or André (who's going to be pretty much right on time, and will go ahead and order and start eating food even if I'm not there...if that's what we were meeting up to do). For Buche, I normally factor in that he will be 10-15 minutes late. For Wonfuzius, I tack on an extra 30-45 minutes and, for Mo, I generally assume that any given meeting time is merely a suggestion and I wait for him to call and pick me up at his leisure.

That just about wraps up my explanation. Yes, I'm lazy. Yes, I have twisted logic. But instead of living in denial, I embrace my faults and work with them.

The way I see it, when I'm mentally laughing at people, it's not really because they are's because of what I perceive to be a lack of foresight in their plans to get from Point A to Point B. "Oh you miserable fool," I chuckle to myself... "You really should have planned this out better."

Which incidentally is the same thing I think to myself when I find myself on the other side of the doors.

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