Sunday, March 28, 2010

The inevitable phase shift

When I first arrived in the UK at Heathrow about 16 months ago, I got on the bus to Oxford and bought myself a round-trip bus ticket. Why? Because one-way is almost as expensive as round-trip and I knew I would be going back to Heathrow soon for any one of my various travels. And so I carried the return ticket in my wallet for a while, and then returned to Heathrow for my first trip. When I came back to Heathrow, I bought another round trip ticket and so forth. So whenever I was in Oxford, I was always carrying around my return bus ticket to Heathrow.

Finally this week in Oxford, I looked in my wallet, and discovered that the inevitable phase shift had happened. I was in Oxford, but I did not have a return bus ticket in my wallet. So from now on, I will be carrying the return ticket when I am on the road, not when I am at home in Oxford.

But what had happened to cause this “phase shift”. Where had my return ticket gone? Had I lost it? No, I was careful about keeping that ticket safe. What had happened was that last week I handed the bus driver in Heathrow a ticket and neither of us noticed that it had already been used. So I actually got three trips out of one round-trip ticket. Well, assuming that I don’t make the same mistake again (either intentionally or unintentionally) I guess from now on, even my bus tickets will indicate that Oxford is home.

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