You’d never know it if you knew me personally, but I absolutely love risk. Not just the game Risk, but risk itself. I think it is by far the most amazing thing in the world, a concept that is as interesting as it is rewarding.
Risk, to me, is something to be understood and conquered. I see the world as decisions to be made, problems to be solved, and things to do, but only after considering all the inputs and outputs of each decision. I’m pretty good at evaluating all possible outcomes, and I excel at making decisions on the fly. I love it, so I’ve a lot of experience with it, and over time I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
The problem with this, though, is that I often make very logical, rational decisions that are not, in any way, reasonable.
Case in point: a high speed chase with campus security
It was the the dumbest thing I’ve ever done; it was reckless, dangerous, and all things considered, it really didn’t make that much sense—ahh, who am I kidding, it made perfect sense! I’d recommend it to anyone.
So I get out of one of my last classes before spring break. I’m minding my own business, travelling a perfectly safe 30 miles per hour on campus, which has a speed limit of 15 miles per hour. But being the calculated person that I am, I just know that I’ve cleared the last passenger crosswalk for…oh, a quarter-mile, and I’m probably another quarter mile until the next passenger crosswalk from parking lot to campus buildings. I’m going downhill, too, so I’m not about to waste all this free energy! Gas isn’t cheap, you know.
At this point, I’m probably a half mile from the exit, and on the very back side of campus. All of a sudden…red lights behind me!
I assess the situation in a matter of seconds:
- Red lights aren’t on police cars, they’re used for civilian security. This isn’t a cop, so I’m not breaking laws, I’m breaking rules. The difference here being that laws mean possible jail time, rules mean a slap on the wrist and a fine.
- I’m a half mile to freedom, knowing that since this isn’t a cop, the “jurisdiction” of any campus security officer ends at the campus.
- Speeding tickets cost $50, and I don’t like wasting money. Plus, he’s going to waste my time, and that’s worth more than anything.
- I got out early, an hour early in the last class of the day. No one is heading onto campus at this time, no one is walking to class, and the only people who are on the road or walking around campus are the people who were in the same class I was just minutes ago.
- My classmates park in a different part of the campus than I do, so I’ve got a half mile of open roads to the exit. Of course, I don’t know the road is open, there could be another traveler up the windy road, but I’m going on instinct here as reasonable thinking is going to cost me $50.
Situation assessed, I’m going to out run him.
So I do. I push the living hell out of the gas until it nearly reaches the carpet of the floor. Around the winding road I traverse, hitting probably 50-60 miles per hour before seeing that around the corner isn’t another soul. Awesome.
I now know that the line in the middle of the road, much like the speed limit, is a mere suggestion. So, rather than travel the suggested “S” of the road, I’m driving in a pattern that looks more like an “I” straight through the street.
Weeeeee!!! Around the corners I fly, with campus security falling behind with each adrenaline-fueled moment. I reach the exit, where a yield sign sits before I have to make a tight 270-degree turn through a roundabout.
I like yield signs, they basically say to stop only if you don’t have the balls to run through them. So I run through it, albeit at a speed that more closely resembles 30 rather than 50 because I don’t want to die for $50—that isn’t worth it. Out running campus security? Please, that’s worth the $50 any day of the week.
At the roundabout I look back to see security turning off their lights, he’s realizing that this is the end! I’m scot free!
He’s turning off his lights because he’s going to chase me off campus. We’re going onto the highway! Here we go!
This is where I hedge my bet. The light at the next stop is a stale green, and I know that it is, in fact, going to turn red before I get there. I drive the speed limit of the highway, thinking at this point that with my massive lead he isn’t going to go after me unless I do something REALLY stupid. Besides, a million people own the car I do, so really there’s about a 1/94953059340 chance that person he saw is actually me. I mean, come on, I’d never get in a high speed chase!
My assessment of a stale green was accurate. No speed under a sustained 80mph would have gotten me through that light. I navigate to the far left lane, hoping the next car to pull up to me will be someone other than campus security. Breaking several laws here, the campus security guy turns on HIS SPOTLIGHT while driving down the highway.
I’m unlucky. The only variable I couldn’t control, measure, nor account for, is this stoplight. He pulls next to me. There I sit, playing with the radio and pretending like I’ve been waiting for this light to turn green for a century—and I have, I blew this guy away. 😉
After several seconds he honks, I look to my left first, knowing that if I look to my right first I’ll look far too guilty. I then look to my right, notice his disgruntled pissed pre-cop face, and watch as he signals me to roll down my window. I do.
He yells at me, “Your ticket will be in the mail!” I say calmly, “Uhm, I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” (I’ve been pulled over before; I understand what it means not to incriminate myself.)
He then speeds off the highway, again breaking several laws in failing to use his turn signal, changing lanes at an intersection, and not even remotely considering the idea of making a complete stop before making a right on a red.
For the first time in a minute I relax in my seat, take a deep breath, and realize what I’ve just done. I laugh it off, turn up the radio to find exactly the song I wanted to listen to. The light turns green and I proceed on my merry way, a grin on my face, and an extra $50 in my back pocket.
Weeks have passed since this has happened. I have no ticket in my possession, nor additional charges to my account.
My inner economist is still just as he was then, and he’s a happy economist. I played the odds, and I won. I weighed every decision, and made a thoughtful, rational choice. It was not reasonable, nor will I pretend that it was. But it was a blast, and I have a story I’ll remember forever, and a thrill that is still running through my veins as I write this. Even if the ticket shows up in the mail tomorrow, I’ll be happy in my decision.
Stupid? Maybe. Thoughtful? Absolutely.
I love you, inner economist.