... and they're that way on purpose.
Today is the centennial of Grand Central Terminal, the nation's most iconic -- and certainly its most beautiful -- train station.
One of the most telling features of the station, having spent my fair share of time there, is what one might politely call the place's "flow" and what one might more accurately call the place's TOTAL CRAZINESS: Passengers zoom and zig and zag around each other, briefcases and backpacks and duffel bags and roller bags in tow, via criss-crossed pathways that if charted would probably resemble a Jackson Pollock painting. On the bright side, this explosion of out-of-my-way-I'm-about-to-miss-my-train effusiveness is a wonder of human ergonomics much like the city that surrounds it. On the other hand, it's a chaotic energy guided by social Darwinism and a collective assumption that racing the clock also means racing one's fellow passengers.
There is very little to be done about all this when space is limited, crowds are large, and humans always -- always -- put things off until the last minute. But Grand Central, for years now, has relied on a system meant to mitigate, if not prevent, all the crazy. It is this: The times displayed on Grand Central's departure boards are wrong -- by a full minute. This is permanent. It is also purposeful.