Friday, June 22, 2007

You Can’t Be Too Careful

Everybody says so, right? It’s only logical.

I say: Horse Manure!

This is one of those little things that get under my skin. Somebody at work made that comment today, and I jumped on it.

“Oh,” I said, “so you advocate lowering the highway speed limit to, oh, about 3 mph? Statistically, anything higher will lead to injuries and deaths. So, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get somewhere, as long as you’re careful to the extreme. Because you just said, ‘You can’t be too careful.’”

“No,” was the reply. “That’s ridiculous. The speed limit is set as a safe maximum. If you drive no faster, you’re being careful.”

“But are you being careful enough? People get killed driving the speed limit. And driving a lot slower, too. Are they being careful enough? After all, aren’t ALL accidents preventable?”

He thought for a bit. “No, they’re not. Because no matter how careful you are, some things are beyond your control.”

I pressed in. “So to avoid being hurt or killed you ought to stay off the roads altogether? If you’re being REALLY careful?”

He thought again. “Okay. I guess some risks are necessary. If you were careful in the extreme, you’d never do anything. Is that your point?”

Anxious not to appear smug, I conceded, “I understand what you meant. People shouldn’t take needless risks, or risks that don’t have a reasonable chance of having a good outcome. And yes, we all need to be careful. But if you really believed that ‘you can’t be too careful,’ you’d quit breathing and die. Because even breathing or moving is accompanied by some risk.”

He smiled and said, “Damned literalist!”

I grinned. “Yup.”


Peter said...

Keep that smugness in check John, you can't be too careful you know.

robotjam said...

Its rubbish that speeding while driving is dangerous, its stopping that's the real problem.

Its why kids these days never have any real fun, when I was a kid you were allowed to do dangerous things as adults organising them wouldn't get their asses sued off.

Karyn Lyndon said...

I think the guy at work was being very kind with what he called you...

Duke_of_Earle said...


You would.

jan said...

Remind me not to tell you to have a nice day. You would probably object to the imperative tone of the sentence and the fact that I was putting too much pressure on you.

Duke_of_Earle said...


Not exactly. I'd probably tell you that I'll whatever kind of day I want, thank you very much. Pressure is self-imposed.


kenju said...

You can't be too careful to stay away from people who believe you can't be too careful!

Christina said...

Too careful? I for one believe that it IS possible to be TOO careful. What's the point of living to be 120 by being careful if you don't enjoy any of it because you're too busy being careful? Use a little common sense. Go ahead and ride the motorcycle, just wear a helmet, you know? Go ahead and scuba dive, skydive, whatever, just do the safety checks and use the equipment properly. Enjoy life.