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August 27, 2010

What your stride in the subway station says about your destination

I meet my wife at the train station every day after work. Usually I get there first, leaving ample time to observe the rush of commuters on their way to the trains.

Commuters come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and numbers of appendages. Just as varied are their strides, gaits and speed as they navigate the distance between the entrance gates and the platform. I’ve observed my own rate of speed depends on where I need to be once I get off the train, so I’ve extrapolated the speed vs. destination to provide an observer’s guide to traveling in the subway station.

The one-step-at-a-time approach: You either still remember the Hoover administration, or you reeeally don’t care to get where you’re going. You will, however, glare at every passer-by who nudges by you. It’s likely you’re on your way to your own execution.

At a medium pace: Normal, everyday walking signifies one thing on your mind – that you were at point A, and you will be at point B in the future. Probably locked into the daily grind, and you look forward to going home, tossing your workbag aside, making dinner, and watching TV. This was your plan the night before as well. And the night before that. And the night before that.

The hip shimmy: You’re just enough in a hurry to pass that guy in front of you, but not hurried enough that you would jog. So your body contorts in a dance of spasm-walking as you reach the escalators. This dance may be easily recognized, as nothing above your waist is moving. You’re likely just trying to catch a train or eventually a bus because if you miss it, you have to wait a half hour for the next one.

The dodge-and-weave: You likely never played sports, but if you did, you’d likely be practicing this move during football drills. Your added hustle indicates there’s a time-sensitive event you need to make. Or, it’s just Friday and you can’t spare a minute of the weekend.

Warp speed: The jangling back slung around your back was never engineered for high-performance mobility, but you don’t care: There’s a Paul McCartney concert two stops away and if you don’t beat this rush you’re stuck with the mutants in the back of the auditorium.

Ludicrous speed: You won the radio contest offering a date with your favorite actress, and you don’t care how many old ladies you need to knock out to get to that train. But by God, you will be on that train.

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