As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking about traffic light patterns. Specifically, I was wishing that they were more like lines at the airport (crazy, right?!).
This is why. In lines at the airport, things are somewhat controlled by people. That can be helpful or not. If you’re running really late for your flight for whatever reason, you have the option of asking the people in front of you if you can go ahead of them. I only recommend that option if you’re truly desperate, but I did try it once, and it worked beautifully.
If you have the perfect combination of ingredients, you can save yourself from a missed flight. I went for being polite with a hint of panic on my face. The other people in line weren’t in a huge hurry, and they could commiserate with me. They had pity.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that at traffic lights, but in a more mechanized way? At this point, some lights are triggered by cars sitting in specific lanes. But what if they could tell how much margin you had before you needed to be at your destination? They could sense that you’re already 20 minutes late, so you can wait two more minutes. Or you’re just on the verge of being on time, so that light would make a real difference.
The light would change according to which lanes contain the people most in need of a green light. It would be complicated, because you would eventually need to let the people who aren’t in a hurry through the light. And it would be totally unfair. People who leave home in a timely manner would be punished for their punctuality, and they would probably have to leave home even earlier to accommodate the light system.
So in reality, this invention would be horrible and problematic, and the entire driving population would curse its inventor. In theory, it’s fantastic.
Then I got to work and stopped thinking about traffic lights. I started thinking about databases and moved into my own little storage closet work world. A few hours later, the door opened and three guys walked in with cameras and notepads. That isn’t a normal occurrence when you work in a cave in the back of the library building.
Have I mentioned that there are all sorts of random things going on in my storage-closet-until-it-became-the-computer-services-office office? It turns out that these men are building inspectors. My office is not a building inspector’s dream come true. On top of weird power situations and too much computer equipment for one storage closet space, I haven’t managed to file any papers away for a while. It basically looks like a paperwork-crazed, computer-savvy hobo moved into my office a month ago, complete with food storage above the desk and liquor boxes on the extra desk. (In my defense, the liquor boxes are standard storage/moving things around fare for the library. They’re just free boxes.)
Awesome. So glad that was captured in photos and will be preserved in an official report.