Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lunchtime thoughts

I had to go out at lunchtime today. So, on the way back, I got stopped at a railroad crossing. Gates were down, no train in sight or within earshot.

A couple of minutes go by, and then this truck toodles on by on the track:

30 seconds later, another one goes by. (I snapped a picture of that one too, but my phone rebooted during the saving of it, for some reason.. that sometimes happens. So, you only get one pic for your enjoyment. Sorry.)

The truck did have special wheels to latch on to the track, in addition to its tires. I'm sure that was a cool automotive engineering project. (had to have been)

A couple of more minutes go by, and then the gates finally go up. No big deal, I'm certainly not in a big rush to get back.

During all of this though, the traffic has backed up. People are getting out of line, turning around, zooming off.

Do they really think they're going to get anywhere faster than just sitting there and waiting for the gates? Is going miles out of the way really going to do something for you? I doubt the train is 5 miles long or anything.

I think it would be an interesting psychology study. If some psych student is looking for a dissertation topic, I suggest it. I think it would be interesting and amusing. Let me know what you find out along the way.

Ah well. Back to it.


Andrew said...

Okay.. A few comments.

I work down the road from a railroad something or other. Apparently they have a lot of those trucks that you're talking about with the railroad guidewheel things. I've noticed that they just use the normal drive train of the car - the tires are sitting on the rails and they just drive like normal - they can't steer, though. So, I've seen a number of those trucks.

Secondly, I wonder if that would be a psychological experiment or a sociological experiment. As you know, I'm a psychologist, although of a very particular persuasion.

Another thing I've noticed in my rural area is when there is an accident on the main two lane road that I use during work from school to school, people will turn around and go back to town. I haven't figured out the other way back but I think it's very far out of their way.

With regards to traffic, I wonder if you've seen this interesting, counterintuitive information about traffic jams and how an individual's behavior can change the traffic. It was on Scientific American with Alan Alda (I love that guy):

Life's Little Questions

I'm sure it's on Youtube but I can't get there (damn filters).

Shoe Running said...

I think sometimes people feel like moving in the wrong direction is better than standing still closer to the destination...crazy :)

raulgonemobile said...

I debated it being a sociological experiment, and I knew you'd chime in.. :)

I have no idea, so I'll go with your opinion.

Lacey Nicole said...

hahahah that is funny it was a truck just going along the track. what would the study be about? why people make decisions to turn around instead of wait? the assumption of going faster by being in motion? i was a psych major :)

Frayed Laces said...

oh my gosh! imagine the anger that would come out of a study like that!

Shannon said...

I would wait for the gates to open unless of course I was late for a wedding, funeral, or in labor. Very interesting....

Denise said...

That would be an interesting study!!