June 30, 2005

The Heat Makes People Crazier, and More Likely To Talk To Me

Ever since the temps started hitting the low nineties (a few weeks back), there is a noticeable increase in irritability and aggression among my fellow train commuters. The other day fightin' words were exchanged on a train as a young fellow with a big black bag carelessly bumped into several people (including me) on his way out the door. It happened behind me, so I only heard the exchange, but as the young man got up from the seat right behind me, his bag lightly bumped the back of my head (which I was willing to let go) and then, apparently, at least one other person as he left. Another man's voice said "Hey!" and the young man angrily said "Nobody told you to put your ass out there so far!"

Also, the usual crazy people seem crazier with the heat, and, through some law of thermodynamics that must have my name on it, more likely to talk to me.

Yesterday morning a haggard, rough looking woman approached me as I sat on the bench at my station. "Can I ask you a question?" she said. And for some stupid reason, I said "Sure," thereby launching an uncomfortable conversation about hair coloring, and, specifically, her "red highlights." By which I assumed she meant the Kool-Aid Grape shade of her hair. After an awkward exchange I stood up (which I now know I should do immediately upon being spoken to) and ambled down the platform away from poor crazy Kool-Aid head.

A Harvard study about the link between changes in weather and changes in crime says:

The authors examined suspected correlations between crime trends and weather, relying on the knowledge that heat waves often lead to an increase in crime in the short run while severe rain or snowstorms generally decrease crime. They found that crime was systematically lower than normal in weeks following periods with hotter temperatures (during which crime typically increased).

Also, an Australian Bureau of Meteorology paper addresses the same issue:

Heat stress affects not only health but also human behaviour. The Bureau collaborated in an investigation of the relationships between crime statistics and weather in Australia, and found an increase in crime rate on days with excessively high temperatures in some studies. The Bureau collaborated with the University of Western Australia Crime Research Centre in a study on weather influences on "road rage."

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