The seats told me to do it

All the data in a world infused with sensors can’t yet transform an experience that we negotiate on the fly. We think in numbers and words, but react from impulse much more difficult to wire, network, and display.

Running a little late to a meeting the other day, I mapped my route while dashing out the door. With a few different subway options, I selected one that had a bit more walking, but also a slice of promise to get me there on time. I hustled down the street and saw that the scheduled times for the Q train were free of alerts and just might work.

The aged signs at the corner pointed me down the stairs toward Manhattan bound trains. At the turnstile, catching my breath while pulling out my pass, the new sign ahead blinked to say the next train would arrive in two, no now one minute. Swipe and turn, note to self: I will have to refill my pass tonight, there’s just a buck-fifty left on it.

I was down on the platform at last and sliced through the crowd exiting. I took one step onto the train but froze. Something wasn’t right. I hopped back as the doors closed. Outside the train again, I watched the B train drift forward. What told me this was the wrong train? Was the gap between the train and platform different, or was the floor of the car less firm? Was it the lights or different seats hidden by the riders but revealed by their posture?

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