Bucking The Fuss…And Vice-Versa

The busses in Seattle generally run pretty much on time. Well, sort of.

At least I don’t have much to complain about, speaking as a guy without a car who spends something like ten hours a week on various froms of public transportation. But there is   one item that drives me nuts.inferno

Generally I try to walk places less than a mile away, mostly on the general principle of the thing, but occasionally I find myself standing at a bus stop wondering if I should wait some more or just hoof it shanksmare  to wherever I’m going and take the chance of being passed by the bus, complete with sneeering passengers.

Since this is Seattle we’re talking about, this bit of inner dialog generally takes place in the rain, in which case you have the added quandral element that the bus, albeit dry, may end up making you even wetter and more cold and miserable by the time it finally gets there. And if you’ve ever gotten good and soaked and had to sit on a typically overheated Metro bus in your sodden clothes for awhile,  well, it’s enough to make you wonder why that merry elf Dante Allegheri didn’t build  a tenth circle into The Inferno and reserve it for people who live in Seattle, here in the shadow of some of the world’s best coffeehouses, and still somehow buy Starbucks (those Seattleites who drink Folger’s– and there are such people–  are utterly unworthy of even Hell. Instead those folks are forced to spend Eternity in Van Nuys).  

Note: the illiustration above right which I so gleefully vivisected for my own childish amusement is actually part of a fine scholarly piece by one David Carroll, and is explicated here.

But I digress. My point– and like Ellen Degeneres, I have one here somehwhere; I mean it was right here just a minute ago– was the Strummerian dilemma between walking (and being passed, inexorably, by the bus)  and staying, perhaps forever, waiting in the rain like the title of some long-lost B-Flick Saturday Matinee: Dupe of The Metro. 

Fortunately, like why toast falls buttered-side down, or why you keep losing socks from the matched pairs rather than the odd ones, a bunch of professional smatypantses  (well, undergrad smartypantses, anyway; you can tell they’re smartypantses because they’re in The New York Times) from Harvard and Cal Tech  have come up with the answer: you’re better off staying. Or, and I quote: “Laziness almost always works.” 

Damn. I love it when Science proves I was right all along. 

Special Hat-Tippage to Bus Chick of the Seattle PI for referencing the NYT article.

BTW: It turns out the wait-for-the-bus question is part of Game Theory, an arcane discipline of which the best-known example is the famous (well, semi-famous, anyway) Prisoner’s Dilemma. And the great thing about Prisoner’s Dilemma is that the best example of it I’ve ever heard was given by that paragon of 20th Century philsophy, Scott Adams, and is quoted in full, and in just two panels, here: 

dilbert_prisoners_dilemma

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