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I’ve always found it interesting how people (myself included) tend to have this compulsion, when waiting on a train, to lean out over the tracks and look down the tunnel to see if the train’s coming. It isn’t limited to just trains, of course, but for some reason it seems more pointless. A train isn’t gonna whiz past you if you’re not looking, like a cab or a bus might. It’s gonna stop for you, regardless.

Sillier still is the fact that we never look just once. Over the course of waiting on a train, we might look down the tracks every other minute, with each successive one a little more impatient than the last. A grown-up version of “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” (“Is it here yet? Is it here yet?”)

Maybe it’s because there’s typically little else to do at a train station. You stand at the platform and stare at the wall across the tracks. By looking down the tracks in hopes of catching sight of the train, it’s almost a form of control. You feel like you’re doing something. Even if all you’re doing is making yourself antsier for the train to get there.

I’ve gotten to actively make myself not look down the tracks when waiting on trains lately. A token attempt to overcome my odd compulsion. It’s been going well so far. I manage to restrain myself from checking for a train every minute. Now I only do it every other minute.

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