Yesterday coming home I was thinking about Einstein, socks, and cab fares.

Let me explain.

There are many things that baffle me.  Mens socks are one.  You never lose a pair of socks.  You always lose one sock.  Every six months I go to the closet and find a handful of socks none of which match.  Where did their pairs go?  So I go to the store and buy a dozen pair.  Slowly the phenomenon repeats itself.  Months later another drawerful of single socks each forlornly in search of its  match.  Back to the store.

Hold that.

einsteinSo yesterday I was on a day trip to New York.  I took the 8 am shuttle from DCA to LGA.  Caught the 7 pm back home.  Fare to the city:  $38.   Fare back from the city to the LaGuardia:  $30.

Then it struck me.  Why are cabs from the airport TO the city are ALWAYS more expensive than cabs FROM the city to the airport?  It was a phenomenon that has been bothering me for some time.  Just like socks.  I travel a lot.  Boston.  St. Louis.  Atlanta.  San Francisco.  Every time it is the same thing.  Cab fares from the airport to the city are X … cabs from downtown to the airport … less than X.

I’ve tried to identify all variables.  Time of day.  Tolls.  Traffic.  None seem to fully account for the difference.  After I net everything out it is always cheaper to go from the city to the airport than the other way around.

The only factor I can think of is that coming home always seems quicker to me than going away.  This is a phenomenon that is widely recognized.  There are all sorts of theories but as best I can tell they all boil down to how we perceive time.

Things seem longer when you are under stress (going away) and things seem shorter when you are in delight (coming home).

As Einstein once said:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

So I get how the cab ride can seem shorter or faster or easier going one way or the other.

I just can’t figure out the fare part of it all.

And the socks.