It Was A Thursday. I Can’t Get The Hang Of Thursdays.

“He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher…or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.”-Douglas Adams

Normally I’m suspicious of technology. Sure, I appreciate all that technology has given us: computers, cars, robots, coffee makers, digital watches, pasteurized cheese, nuclear bombs, flying cars, vacuum cleaners, cotton-polyester blend shirts—I could go on but I think you understand and we can agree that technology is not only just for solving problems; it also creates whole new problems we didn’t even think about when we were naked creatures squatting around campfires—which actually describes my Uncle Larry right now which is why advances in technology don’t bother him, but that’s another story.

Anyway I’ve had ups and downs with the Nashville MTA app, mostly ups because it’s usually accurate and it’s handy to know when the next bus is coming and on occasion when I’ve just missed the bus. In spite of the bus stops being numbered on the app but not having any corresponding numbers on the signs I’ve been able to figure out what stop is where. Sometimes it just baffles me, like when it tells me the schedule information for all buses is “N/A” and I wonder if it’s a holiday I didn’t know about and that the buses aren’t running, although one always turns up around the usual time.

The other day even though I got to the bus stop in plenty of time the app informed me that I’d just missed the bus and that it would be more than a half hour before another one came along. The timing was so close, in fact, that it seemed to suggest that if I squinted I’d be able to see the bus I’d just missed speeding away, but I wasn’t interested in looking. I decided to go with my backup plan of walking the extra half a mile or so to catch the express bus. It was a nice day and I was ambling along happily, listening to the first episode of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: Hexagonal Phase , looking at dandelions, and reflecting on the legacy of Douglas Adams.

And as I was walking along, between bus stops, the bus sped right past me. It stopped at an intersection just ahead and I ran to try and catch it, but I wasn’t fast enough. I didn’t need to squint. I stood there and watched it speed away. And I wondered if the Nashville MTA app were designed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation which, as fellow hitchhikers know, has only one profitable division: its complaints department.


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  1. Red

    I can relate to this. Sort of. Yay for HHGG!

    More to the point, I wish there was an app for Beijing public transportation. There might be, but if there is it’s in Chinese and therefore useless to me. I tend to just allow an extra 15 minutes if I’m taking a bus because theoretically, they come every 10 minutes.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That seems like a universal problem. From what I hear even in New York, the city that would grind to a halt without public transportation, even the buses that are supposed to run every few minutes are always late and travel in gangs. Now that I think about it that was the heart of what Adams was trying to tell us: for every problem technology solves it creates a dozen more.

  2. Jay

    I like that you’re still outsmarting the technology!

  3. Jay

    Also, if you’ll forgive this:

    I was just reading about an upcoming movie based on the Choose Your Own Adventure books – you know, you could flip through the chapters and choose which path you wanted the characters to take.
    How to translate that on film?
    An app, of course.
    Which strikes me as weird since we try to discourage people from using phones in movies.
    And obviously the audience would vote as a single body.
    And the books could kill you off within 3 chapters – might the movie only be 10 minutes?

    I just can’t wrap my mind around it.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s fantastic–that you’re telling me about it, I mean. The idea sounds horrible. I loved the books and I can’t see how it would translate to a movie. What if the rest of the audience doesn’t vote the way you do? And there are already people checking their smartphones in the movies. Encouraging them to whip out an app–now that would be unforgiveable.

      1. Jay

        And then when the app inevitably malfunctions…does the movie just grind to a halt?

        1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

          It probably does grind to a halt because they won’t have the technology completely worked out yet, and even if it doesn’t come to a halt it will still be really annoying to have the film constantly interrupted by pop-ups telling you to make a choice. It’ll be impossible to simply enjoy the movie because of the anticipation of the next forced decision.

  4. Ann Koplow

    I have no complaints about this post, Chris.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I have no complaints about your comments.


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