Should I stay or should I go?

The commuter train that I take from downtown Stockholm to our idyllic Sollentuna is probably about 100 meters long. Maybe a little longer, maybe 150, even, because it takes me a good minute to walk from one end to the other.

It may not sound significant, but choosing where to get on is a big decision, because it practically also seals my decision to either walk home, or take the bus.

Front of the train: bus. End of the train: walk.

It’s an 11-minute walk in the winter, and a 9-minute-walk in the summer.

The drive in the picture is innocent. This time.

The bus ride takes about four minutes, but then there’s a two-minute walk from the bus stop, and a five-minute wait for the bus so more often than not, I sit at the south end of the train, and walk home, and get there at the same time or sooner than I would have with the bus.

Last night, though, I felt lazy, and I saw that the bus would leave just four minutes after the train arrived, so I figured it made sense to get on the north end, the front of the train, and then take the bus.

So, I was the first out of the gate, edging out a guy who had pushed himself from behind me and stood with his nose to the glass door. The important quick first steps gave me a lead, I was the first through the electronic turnstile – so, technically, no turnstile at all – and also the first one to stand at the bus stop, waiting for the bus.

A sucker.

There was no bus four minutes later, nor five, six, or seven minute later. It was a chilly night, so I decided to start walking towards the next stop – and home.

Now, I knew – I knew – that the best, the absolutely best choice is to be lazy, and stay at the stop you’re at, instead of walk to the next one. Some math guys proved it in Harvard a few years ago, and I happened to hear it in one of the many podcasts I listen to.

[T]he Mathematician would always choose to wait for the bus as it will necessarily pass him before he gets to his destination.

However, the Lazy Finn decided to walk to the next stop, but unfortunately for him, the Mathematician was right. As I was about 30 meters from the next stop, I turned to look behind me, and saw the bus. I started to run, and I ran and waved, and waved and ran, and 20 meters from the stop, the bus passed me. The driver looked at me waving there, and then kept on driving.

I whistled after him, I kept on waving, and I ran and waved and whistled, to no avail. I was furious. I was fuming. And as I saw the red back lights of the bus, I also realized that it would have to make a loop to get to the big road so I started to run again. I ran as fast as I could to make it to the big road before the bus, cutting across a parking lot and a bike lane.

Out of rage, I sprinted the whole 250 meters, keeping my eye on the road as I ran, but with no bus in sight, I kept on running. My lungs were burning, the cold air made me want to cough, and my feet got heavy. Very heavy.

And I did it. I did get to the edge of the bike lane that runs alongside the big road just in time to – point my finger at the driver, just to let him know that I did see him. He would not get out of this unpunished. I would recognize him in a lineup which I was going to have the bus company to set up.

He didn’t see me.

I inhaled, trying to get more oxygen into my body to get my poor legs moving again, then walked home, cursing the driver every step of the way.

4 thoughts on “Should I stay or should I go?

  1. ;D
    I always wondered who those people are who seem to bend over backwards for a chance to point the finger and give an evil eye… They’re homo sapiens commuters!

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