Murphy’s Law and How I Beat It (This Time)

November 22, 2021

This was the last photo I took before I put my camera back into the bag. I was being severely optimistic by waiting until the very last minute before I crossed the Charles River from Lower Allston, where Harvard Business School is, back into Harvard Square.

Time check: 3:57pm

The sun was setting. Despite the dark, gloomy clouds, the red-orange streaks of sunset were peeking through the looming threat of rain.

I got into Harvard Station at 3:59pm. I remember thinking, “Oh there’s a 4pm Outbound train and I won’t make it. It’s alright, the next train usually arrives within the next 5 minutes.

Of course, the ticket machines I tried weren’t working and it took a full minute to find one that works. As I was getting my ticket, the 4pm train arrived on time. I had no choice, even if I ran, I wouldn’t make it.

And there it went. The 4pm train left without me.

To up the stakes, here’s the background:

I needed to get back to my Airbnb to pick up my bags and then run to Alewife Station. My bus to Manhattan would leave at 5pm.

From Harvard to my Airbnb: 15min
From Airbnb to Alewife: 18min

In between that, I needed to pee, get some water, and drop off my Airbnb house key. I did the quick Math over and over again and I really didn’t have much time to spare.

And then there it was, the announcement that said the trains have stopped for an indefinite time.

Time check: 4:10pm

The train LED started getting filled with information again. Instead of ‘Train Stopped’ it now read ‘10min’ for the next train. The train would now be arriving at 4:20pm

“Do I have time?”

I thought about getting out of the station and getting an Uber instead but I looked on Google Maps and saw that the traffic is so bad, the delayed next train will get me to Davis Station before the Uber would.

"Do I wait it out or try my luck in the Cambridge traffic?"

It was 4:20pm and I was still at Harvard Station. At this point, you probably guessed—yes, I waited it out. During that 10 minutes, I thought about worst case scenarios. At the very worst, I’d miss my bus and would need to take another train to South Station to get on a rail train to Penn Station in New York. At the very worst, I’d still be arriving into New York more or less around the same time as my bus.

For reference
: 3hr 17min trip, costs about $180 one-away
Bus: 4hr trip, pre-paid and costed $35 one-way

Another worst case scenario is just staying in Cambridge for one more night. The Airbnb I was staying at isn’t booked so I at least had that option.

Having the default mindset of laying out the worst case scenarios almost always makes me logically conclude that even at the worst possible outcome, it’s really not so bad. This is what normally gets me to feel undefeated. No matter how many setbacks come right after the other, this is how I’m able to laugh and say it will be alright.

And of course as I say this, the train was delayed even more. Murphy’s Law states that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. From a supposed train at 4:20pm, it arrived at 4:25pm.

By 4:28pm, I exited Davis Station. Really, it's a quick train ride at only a 3km distance.

Google Maps estimated an 11min walk from Davis Station to the Airbnb. I fast-walked it in 6 minutes.

I got into the house, dumped my things on the floor, ran to the toilet to pee, washed my hands, refilled my water bottle, reorganised my bags, locked the door behind me, put the key back into the lockbox—all this took 3 minutes.

Time check: 4:37pm

Google Maps estimated a 17min walk to the Bus Station. From the time I had left, it sounds good enough. But I didn’t know where the bus will be and how to find it. Then I recall seeing in my peripheral a handwritten sign last Saturday about all the NYC buses being on Berth 6.

As I’m fast-walking, I kept saying “Berth 6” again and again as my mantra. I was happy I didn’t take an Uber to Alewife because I was walking faster than the cars stuck in traffic.

“Berth 6, Berth 6, Berth 6”

And in the heat of it all, I walked past this church sign that I kept saying I will come back and take a photo of and never did. While laughing, I stopped and snapped a picture.

“Berth 6, Berth 6, Berth 6”

Heartbeat at an average of 168bpm and at a high of 180bpm—That was how pumped I was, determined to catch every walking man / pedestrian light to get to Berth 6.

Total walk time: less than 12 minutes

I arrived at the station and at Berth 6 at 4:49pm, with ample time to go to the Station’s toilet to change into another top because I sweated through my sweater top. With a huge long sigh, I looked into the women's toilet mirror and smiled. Then, I walked back again to Berth 6 to board the bus.

I’m now writing this post on my Notes app while sitting in the bus to New York, still really can’t believe that I made it on the bus. Today, I kicked Murphy’s Law in the butt with determination and no-nonsense, optimal step-by-step actions.

PS If you’re wondering, all the data are from my photos’ metadata and my Apple Watch

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