Each commuter train that leaves NYC for the wider metro area secretly, but purposefully, leaves one-minute late!
by Charlie Leck
The idea is to help “the harried commuter” the NY Times says.
I ask: Where will it end?
Now that that same commuter knows that his train leaves one minute late he has been given another minute. Now the same train will need to leave two minutes late (the second minute will be a secret, of course).
My dentist already uses the same principle with me. If I make a 10:00 A.M. appointment, he figures me for 10:05. Since he does that, I figure I’m okay up until 10:10. After a while, he’ll make a 10:00 appointment for me and figure me for 10:10. That gives me until 10:15.
When I make an appointment with the electrician to come to my home to do some repairs for me, I make it for 15 minutes before I really want him there – 7:45 for an 8 o’clock appointment. He knows all this and figures he’s good to arrive up until 8:15.
So, now what happens when that NYC train pulls out 50 seconds after its scheduled departure time. Does the guy running down the platform, waving his arms and screaming obscenities have any right to complain that his train left before it was supposed to?
Again: Imagine where it will all lead – movie theaters, dinner reservations, voting place closings and Friday night kickoffs at the local high school.
In golf tournaments we have a cherished rule about tee times. If you’re not on the tee at your given time, you are disqualified. In team match play, if you show up within five minutes of that time and have a qualifying excuse (like, your wife had your first child on her way to drop you of at the course), you can join your group, begin play on the next tee. After five minutes, it’s just too bad that you couldn’t have managed your kid’s delivery more quickly because you are out of the event. When we say 5 minutes at these events, we don’t mean 6 minutes. We work by an atomic clock that is absolutely official. Now, however, with what appears to be a NY Times endorsement of the policy, we’ll likely stick a one minute buffer in all these times.
Much to my wife’s consternation, I follow this general principle when it comes to the gas levels on my car. When it “dings” and tells me I am dangerously low on fuel, I figure I have another 50 miles to go. The car manufacturer would certainly have built something like that in wouldn't he?
Of course, if the crew on my cross-country Delta Airlines flight followed the same practice I would be outraged.
I have a friend who follows this general policy when it comes to drinking and driving. He establishes the number of drinks he may have before driving, but always regards that number loosely and gives himself some flexibility. At that point, his friends begin arguing with him about taking his keys, but they have a one minute limitation on such arguments before giving up – and they often reduce that minute to about half as much because they feel harried and must catch the last commuter train to get home themselves, not realizing, of course, that they actually had another full minute to argue with said friend about driving after drinking. It’s all part of the same principle as we’re talking about in NY.
“Our schedule is firm – sort of!”
“We mean what we say – sort of!”
“I wouldn’t ever put you on – well, hardly ever anyway, then, don't you know? You betcha!”