Every morning, I force myself out of bed, wolf down some toast and make my way down to the subway station for the 16 minute commute into the city. Once on the train at rush hour, my fellow passengers and I keep a close eye on the occupied seats when we pause at a hub station. At the smallest sign that a person may vacate their seat, we swoop in like a flock of seagulls fighting over a stale french fry to grab a place to sit.
Of course, after scoring a coveted place to rest my legs, it’s only a few stops until I arrive at my destination, which also happens to be a hub station. Now I am in the benevolent position of granting another drained passenger the dignity of relaxing in the comfort of a thinly cushioned bench, while I escape to the platform.
I trudge up the stairs (the escalator is always broken and the elevator has an overwhelming odor of urine), and look for the quickest and most convenient way to exit the station.
This particular station happens to have a long hall that ends in 2 doors. One door exits forward while the other exits to the left. My work building is located toward the right, so I generally take the door facing forward to exit the station.
Temperatures are currently below freezing, and because of bad construction, the forward facing door I normally take has a flimsy paper sign attached with cheap tape begining to peal off with the cold. It reads, “Please use other door to minimize cold air in the station.”
Like many commuters, I think, “This is not my problem.” Taking the door on the left means walking 5 extra steps around the corner. That’s 5 extra steps in the cold, slippery outdoors.
This is not happening.
For the past two weeks, the sign has been ignored by all commuters through the station, and rightly so, in my opinion. But today, things have changed.
When I reach the top of the stairs, I swerve through the crowd and make my way to the hallway that leads outside. There stands a grey-haired man in a faded green coat, covered in what I hope is ketchup, leaning on the wall beside the forward facing door. As I get closer, he begins to cough disturbingly, hacking and grunting, then follows this by expelling a lage glob of mucus onto the floor.
I turn swiftly to my left and steer clear of the door guarded by this human personification of Pestilence. Those five extra steps through the biting cold now seem like a small price to pay compared to risking exposure to a mystery illness.
Genius move Stockholm Transportation Service!
Run the gauntlet of disease and mucus, or concede to take the exit less traveled? I acknowledge your superior strategy. You win this time. I shall bow to your will and use the recommended exit.