Monday, April 20, 2009
The House Always Wins
While watching a very intellectually stimulating episode of “Samantha Who?” on my DVR yesterday (I never said I liked good sitcoms, just ALL sitcoms) I was reminded of the phrase “The House Always Wins”. For those of you who have not seen this Christina Applegate/Barry Watson critically acclaimed show, it’s a show about a woman who is a horrible person until she gets amnesia and becomes a good person and forgets about all the horrible things she’s done in the past.
So on last week’s episode Sam went to Vegas, where she had a flashback that she used to be a regular in this casino and had won and lost a bunch of money there but also had a romantic relationship with the owner, who also owned the company she used to work for. I started thinking about the phrase “The House Always Wins” and how I use that phrase in my day-to-day life in non-gambling-related instances. I think my main usage of it pertains to the MTA and the constant battle/struggle in my life that I like to call “The Limited vs. The Local”.
This phenomenon is somewhat similar to “The Road Less Traveled” but more applicable to ANY situation in which you have two route choices to get to a given destination. I have an uncanny ability to ALWAYS choose the one that ends up taking longer. For example, the subway platform at 57th street that I stand on to go from my day job to my night job: On one side of the track there is the Q, 57th street is the last stop for the Q so it sits there idly after it arrives and then leaves and goes straight to 42nd street, which is where I need to go. But across the way we have the local track, which houses the N-R-W, which are the local trains.
When I get to the platform, the Q is almost always sitting there with it’s doors open, and the opposite N-R-W track is empty. But an N-R-W almost always comes through while I’m waiting for the Q to leave and I almost always get up off the idle Q, and walk over to the N-R-W so that instead of sitting still I’m on a moving train, even though the moving train has one extra stop in the short ride I’m taking it.
Side note: people who take the subway one stop used to boggle my mind, actually they still do. If you use the subway to travel 10 blocks or less you BETTER be either an elderly person or have some sort of foot condition which does not allow you to walk more than a couple of blocks, because if you’re too lazy to walk 10 blocks, get a fucking life.
Anyway, my issue with taking the local N-R-W is that while the train is making it’s one stop at 49th street, I almost ALWAYS see the Q go zooming by on it’s express path to 42nd street. This makes me start sweating with anger and the probably 5 seconds I have lost on my inferior route choice. What does that 5 seconds mean in the grand scheme of things? Nothing. But what if it did. I mean, who hasn’t seen the movie “Sliding Doors” starring Gwyneth Paltrow (who, in my opinion, is long over-due for a return to the big screen… “Great Expectations” anyone? Best movie ever.)
So some days I decide, “I’m going to sit and wait on the Q for it to leave even if an N-R-W comes by on the other track”. I kid you not, about 95% of the time that I decide to do this, I am sitting on the Q train for 10 minutes while 3, count ‘em, THREE, N-R-W (probably one of each) trains come by and stop across the platform from me. And I sit there in anger, “Why, Brady, WHYYYYY” but I have already made my decision and I stick with it, no matter how much my body is shaking with rage as I sit and listen to my ipod and wear my sunglasses so no one can see me staring at them… even though my lenses aren’t dark enough to hide my eyes so they can totally see me staring that them.
I don’t know who exactly is “winning” in this scenario, or why the MTA is out to steal my precious 5 seconds, but with technology today there should definitely be a system that tells me which train will get me where faster. That’s it. It’s been decided. I’m taking this idea to that guy who wears the green suit with question marks and dollar signs and screams about patenting you invention, or whatever the hell he says, I don’t pay attention. But we’re going into business together and making millions. Done. But the fact remains, I do sit on the Q train and think as I watch the local trains come and go, “The House Always Wins”.
I also have this uncanny ability to make the wrong decision when driving, specifically, on my drive out of the city to Connecticut. There is a time-saving route that I use that cuts off of 95 and onto the Hutch for like 5 min and then cuts back over to 95, saving you the drive through Co-op City, which is sometimes/often trafficky (word I made up, go with it). When this short cut works, it is golden. But somehow, the times I decide to take it, it is also trafficky. And when this happens I am convinced that the other route is clear. But as one of my friends pointed out to me last summer, if the short cut is trafficky that probably means the long way is trafficky too. Valid point.
But. But but but, When I am the driver and I choose the trafficky route, I am always convinced that the alternative is clear and I made the wrong choice. It’s just how my life goes. And I’ve realized it, and accepted it. Or haven’t I? If I had accepted it I might make the attempt to pad my scheduled journeys with the time allotments for these holdups that I foresee, but instead, I always leave later than planned and arrive doubly later than planned because of these funnnnn detours and traffic jams. So have I learned anything? Is there anything to learn from these trials and tribulations with public transportation and public roads? You decide. Either way I choose to go, the house always wins.