Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mathematics of Crazy

Without getting into details, this morning I had a nice, heaping dose of the crazies plopped into my lap. I take the bus into the office which means that at any given time, I’m enroute to or leaving the city with 75 of my closest friends. Give credit to the transit authority and the riders because in all the years of travel, this is the first incident worth remembering.

The episode involved someone who, in all likelihood, was merely hung over/still drunk. Even so, the subject matter and volume of his “self-conversation” were above the comfort threshold for most of us sitting nearby. There were some odd threats to no one in particular as well as a couple comments that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. About 10 minutes into our 30 minute ride, the woman next to me leaned over and asked, “Should we be concerned?” I said I was still debating and we continued to the next stop without issue.

When we arrived, the man hauled his guitar case, tote bag, and Red Bull off the bus. My seat-neighbor mentioned her concern to the bus driver who, in turn, told a nearby transit supervisor. The super went to talk with the individual and the bus continued on its route.  

Now, I’ll admit to being more paranoid/cautious than the average person and in all likelihood, there was no real need for concern. It was likely just a guy who had a few too many the night before and was up early to visit our fair city. He was just doing so in a creepy manner*.

Which got me thinking about the Mathematics of Crazy. That is, what is the likelihood that someone on your bus/train/deep-sea research vessel commissioned by SEALs to recover nukes really has gone off the deep end? If they are carving a KABAR into their forearm, chances are pretty good. Sadly, the signs aren’t always that obvious.  

To determine the Crazy Quotient, which is 100% based on my recent personal experience, I offer this equation:

Given 4 years working in this particular city at 5 days a week on a bus with 75 people each way, the total number of travelers comes out to 156,000. If you subtract 15% (totally made this number up) for holidays, days I drive into the city, etc, that equates to 132,600 normal people I've ridden with for every 1 who was possibly not. Going a step further, that means there’s a .000000754-ish% chance that in the next 4 years, the person behind me will be coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. 

I can easily accept this, especially in a city as wacked out as this one.

Besides, what’s not to say that next time, it's you or me that is the .000000754-ish percentile on the bus?

*”creepy” being veeeeery subjective, BTW.

1 comment:

  1. I do not ride the bus. However, I have an 8% chance of being seated next to a weeping, drunk woman on a plane and an 80% chance of working with a crazy who believes I'm her best friend.

    Neither appear dangerous to others, unless you include drunk dialing in the definition of "dangerous".