By: Tom Schulte
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”
I thoroughly enjoy my days at US Wealth Management, but there is an overwhelmingly good feeling each afternoon that comes with shutting down my computer and exiting the office. I take a few last gulps from my water bottle as I speak with Rachel at the VOYA desk (who has an uncanny ability to promote relaxation and positivity on the way out) and glance at my phone, pulling up the ‘Ride Systems’ application. With this technology I can track my shuttle to the Quincy Adams MBTA stop to within a couple feet—a nifty idea, right? Wrong. From the time I initially check to see where the shuttle is, to actually being picked up, there is typically no more than six or seven minutes of wait time. However, you’d be surprised just how often I will refresh the shuttle’s status on the application. More often than not, the shuttle has failed to make any progress between refreshes. I impatiently sit in the mezzanine with a composure similar to that of molten-hot gumbo, checking to see where the shuttle is every few seconds like a lunatic. Eventually the shuttle shows up and my blood pressure begins to recede from its 190/120 levels. Time to unwind and relax, right? Wrong.
While I may get a few moments of shut-eye (literally just a few moments), pretty soon I will pull my phone back out to access another application called ‘ProximiT’. ProximiT gives second-by-second updates as to the status of northbound trains stopping at the Quincy Adams T stop. So as the shuttle driver manages to navigate into pothole after pothole, I am glued to the screen, assessing and reassessing whether I will make the next train or not. Stopped busses, red lights, and slow-moving traffic pierce like a sword as I begin to doubt my ability to make the next train. I have found that the magic number is approximately 55 seconds. 55 seconds to exit the shuttle, sprint across the sometime-slippery brick, through the turnstiles, and up the stairs to the platform. Typically under the 55 seconds rule, there are still people boarding by the time I make it, which keeps the train doors held in the open position. However, I occasionally will be forced to sacrifice an arm or leg between the closing doors to force them to reopen—very much at the displeasure of the train operator. Once aboard, I can officially unplug.
Do not be fooled, I am actually quite skilled in the art of relaxation, however with these applications at my disposal during the commute, I begin to think that maybe the Amish have it right. I have explained this commuting-related ritual with friends and family who have confirmed that I am in fact a lunatic. One friend even had a suggestion for me: a new application called ‘Headspace’ used for meditation. No thank you, the last thing I need is yet another app.