Ok, it is generally accepted that “luck” is a very difficult concept to quantify scientifically. Everyone has their own idea what it is and some people even think it has a “cause” and can be manipulated. Gamblers have a notoriously twisted idea of what “luck” is and how it can seemingly overcome mathematical certainties. Historically, humans from every corner of the globe have even objectified it into religions and religious icons. For some reason, certain Christians have a pagan approach to luck and think praying to the invisible will influence “luck” in their favour. All very strange.
Anyway, in view of this, I have spent the last few weeks carrying out an experiment that I am, as I have always suspected, cursed with bad luck… My PC is not possessed by the devil, it doesn’t hate me, I am just very unlucky – which is why every time I need an internet connection it goes down. This is not good news, but at least it explains why every week I do the national lottery and, despite the odds, I never get a single number. Ever. Now, part of me suspects the odds against that are greater than the odds against winning the lottery, but now I know the real reason©™.
My experiment has been simple. There are, basically, two routes I can take from work to get home. Because of the hideous nature of road traffic, my journey home normally takes in excess of an hour and I travel at the majestic average speed of 29mph. Aren’t modern cars wonderful. The upside of this mind numbing tedium is that I have time to think about things, and I realised that no matter which route I take, it takes me about the same lenght of time to get home and more importantly whatever lane I choose, the other goes faster.
Any drivers out there will undoubtedly share that experience. You are stuck in snail like traffic and all around you the cars are going faster. You change lane, only to discover the other lane has started moving. It is more than a little annoying.
So, during my thinking, I decided to see what was the best thing to do. Should I pick a lane and stay in it? Should I change as much as possible and fight my way forward. I know strong advocates of both options. Add to this, which route should I take?
From this, my experiment was formed… The plan was, over the course of several weeks to drive home a different way each time. Weeks 1 – 3 I would take “Route A” and then weeks 4 – 6 would be “Route B”. Although all at about the same time of day, each week would be either staying in the left hand lane, staying in the right hand lane or changing lanes as instinct dictates. As a “control” for the first two weeks, I would make a note of a car that joined about the same time as I did but in the other lane and see if they were ahead or behind me.
Anyway, today it all ended and the results were in. The basic conclusion is that I am cursed with bad luck. Seriously.
The average journey times for both routes was about 1hr 30mins (with very little deviation), giving me an average speed of 31mph. Wonderful eh? It seems that neither route was better, and changing lanes was no faster or slower than staying put. Also, it didn’t really matter what lane I was in, the time was pretty much the same.
Weirder still came when I was doing the “single lane” part. Every single time, every day for four of the six weeks, what ever lane I was in turned out to be the slowest. Without fail, a vehicle that joined the traffic the same time as me, would make faster progress if they were in a different lane to me. In some instances the other lane was going so fast I lost the vehicle (and visibility on this stretch is quite far), while in others, they were only a few minutes ahead of me – but they were ALWAYS ahead.
Like I said, the only redeeming feature of this is at least now I know why I never get a single number on the lottery. Maybe Luck hates Atheists. Or just me…