It seems that “life’s little victories” is quickly becoming a recurring theme on this blog. Partly, I think, it’s a personal thing – I focus on the little victories to help temper both life’s major victories and major defeats (lest you get too high, or too low).
More than that, you get a chance to savor the little victories on a much more frequent basis, allowing me to string together positive experiences that ultimately result in major victories (and, admittedly, major defeats).
An article in the New York Times describes the secret behind one of my savored “little victories” – just catching the train before it departs.
Every commuter train that departs from New York City — about 900 a day — leaves a minute later than scheduled. If the timetable says 8:14, the train will actually leave at 8:15. The 12:48 is really the 12:49.
The phantom minute, in place for decades and published only in private timetables for employees, is meant as a grace period for stragglers who need the extra time to scramble off the platform and onto the train.
I really like this. Especially in a city like NYC, those train platforms are crazy, and often missing the train means hours of back-logged travel time for commuters.
It should be noted, however, that NYC appears unique in this sixty-second allowance:
The courtesy minute does not exist at commuter railroads in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.
I can tell you from experience that it does not exist in Philadelphia, and it most-certainly does not exist in Washington, D.C.
This past summer, while working in DC, my commute was regularly made or broken by a matter of seconds. My route to/from work involved three trains and one bus. A missed connection at any point could mean getting home in 20 minutes, or 90. Especially at rush hour.
I had my fair share of little victories this summer, but also little defeats (some of which felt like major defeats – especially after a long day’s work). I can really appreciate the effort made to grant a few more “little victories” in our exceedingly crazy world.