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The Platform Shift

August 21, 2008

NYC commuters tend to stake out and claim a specific spot on the train or subway platform when they wait for their train. They rush to that spot, plant themselves there, and remain unmovable until their train arrives. Naturally, most approximate the best relative position on their train according to their destination’s exit convenience. But, oddly, their positions are approximately fifteen feet behind their true boarding positions.

As the train pulls into the station, all the firmly planted commuters shift in tandem, along with the movement of the train, and walk a brisk fifteen feet to their point of entry.

To test out my theory of this predictable platform shift, I decided one day to stake my spot on the platform, where I knew a point of entry would be on the train, and remained there, even as the train pulled in. What resulted was a lot of peeved commuters either colliding with me or just missing. I was assaulted with dirty looks, and the natural order of things was clearly disrupted.

So, bystanders, beware of the commuter platform shift. If you fight the established current, you just might ruin someone’s day by standing still.

Commuters break their waiting positions when the train arrives.

Commuters break their waiting positions when the train arrives.

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