Among the quantitative models I enjoy teaching, my favorite is probably queuing theory because of its ratio of practical-benefit-plus-surprising-insights to effort required to ‘get it’ (and use it). Alex Stone has a nice op-ed on queuing in the NYT today, which begins with an example of thinking outside the box that I always use in class: briefly, your plane does always arrive at the far end of the finger, not randomly. This is partly because (i) it minimizes aircraft taxiing in and out time and getting stuck in apron traffic (airplanes queue too, and Stone misses this one) and partly (ii) because maximizing your walk to the baggage carousel, past as many distractions as possible, shortens what feels to you like ‘the wait for your bag’.
I am mystified, given the batch of interesting and useful psychology Stone packs into his article, that he fails to provide the invaluable, priceless, life-altering secret with which you can never again wait in line, for the rest of your life. I have up to now only shared this secret, imparted to me by the late Edith Stokey along with a lot of other wisdom, with my students, but you can learn it after the jump:Always carry a book (and now you can have a whole library on your phone!).