Challenging the status quo

What if a subway works like an airline?

To get on the subway, you would book a seat in advance. You pay extra to sit close to the door.

When the day of travel comes, you open the subway app and click on a button to “confirm” you will be actually taking that seat you paid for. Diligently the app reminds you to arrive at the subway station a few hours before departure because it will take some time to get to the platform.

You travel to the subway station and enter the building. You stand in line to verify your identity and have them scan your luggage. Thank god you did not bring any large suitcases because you had to stand in line at a desk to give them to an attendant. Large suitcases travel inside a baggage car you know.

When you get through the line, you are an hour early. You spend some time window shopping at the stores selling goods you do not need. Maybe I can get a present? You get a coffee and wait at the platform. There is a constant yelling over the speakers by a woman for some other train 10 platforms away who is boarding. “We are boarding zone 1! If you are in zone 2, 3, 4 or 5 please stay seated. Our million milers and premium members are welcome to board now too via the priority lane.” I am glad I upgraded to priority boarding, I’ll be on the train soon.

Finally, it is close to our time of boarding. I see the platform attendant grabbing the microphone. She yells in the microphone that we have to wait. The crew has not arrived yet. They’re coming from another train which is now entering the station. We should be boarding soon.

I continue reading my book. 20 minutes pass. I see some people in official uniforms hovering by the gate. Is that the train crew?

The lady at the platform informs us that the crew is on board and we will be able to enter the train soon.

Another 10 minutes pass. I hope we get on the train soon. I have a connection at Union Square which I do not want to miss.

Finally, the boarding process starts. There is a pleasant person at the entrance welcoming us and telling us in which direction to walk to get to our seat. It is not always clear with the numbers and letters where you would need to go. A sign could have helped or a more logical layout of the seating numbering, but a person is more pleasant.

I find my seat. I try to stuff my bag in the overhead compartment, but there is just barely enough room. I shove and push. Finally, my bag is in. Pfew. I take my seat.

After 25 minutes everyone is on board. The train machinist is informing us about the trip. It is mostly dark and damp outside. No surprise since we are in a tunnel. He promises to give us an update as we get close to the next station. That was nice of him.

Next, we get a short video on the safety features of the train. They inform me that in case of an accident, there is a life vest under my seat. I am puzzled by that but accept it. There is also oxygen masks. Just in case we run out of oxygen I guess. For the life of me, I cannot remember when there was ever an accident that would save anyone because they had those features. I guess it is mandatory.

I feel the train moving. This is great. I look out of the window and see the platform moving along. We are on our way!

Or not? We came to a stop just outside the station. We have been sitting here for 5 minutes. What is going on? The train machinist informs us that it is busy on the train tracks, but in a chipper voice, he announces we are number 10 in line to leave the station. Great, let’s hope I can make my connection at Union Square.

Slowly the train is moving and then stopping. This goes on for another 10 minutes or so, but then finally we start moving quickly. The train is gaining speed. We are on our way!

During the ride, I am entertaining myself with some TV.

After a while, the train machinist comes back on and he announces with a happy voice that we are about to enter the Union Square station. He informs us again of the local weather. It is still damp, dark and cold.

I feel the train slowing down. It is moving super slowly now. This takes another 10 minutes or so before I can see us entering the subway station. We come to a full-stop. The train attendant tells us we should stay seated until the machinist turns off the seat belt sign. We all wait for that liberating moment and when it happens everyone jumps up and we get our stuff out of the overhead compartments.

Everyone is standing anxious to get out. Unfortunately, the door has not opened yet. Anxiously I look at the clock. My connection is leaving in 20 minutes. Will I make it in time? How far is it to go from platform 12 to platform 67 I wonder.

The doors open and we are let out of the train. I still 15 minutes. I can make it. I start running.

This is one of my favorite things to do to get perspective on the status quo.

Distractions distractions distractions

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