The Plural Of Anecdote Is Experience

A Tree

(Updated below.)

This might be preaching to the choir, but if it isn’t, new converts are always welcome. When people think “Hoye”, as many of you know, they think “safety”.

Yesterday a conversation I was having with a contractor turned to things you shouldn’t do, and the consequences thereof, and these guys had some impressive examples; welding mishaps, stomped and pierced appendages, hot metal shards just next to eyes, tensioned cables snapping across cheekbones, crunched toes and blades just barely missing thumbs. And these guys were all wiry old salt-cured east-coasters, so they’d always end the story with something like “…right dahn to deh bone. I cudn’a go back ta work fah four whole day!” or something close to it, but that’s not the only thing these stories all had in common.

I know I’m not the first person to notice this (there’s a book about it, in fact) but that conversation really drove home the fact that whenever I hear a story about some horrific mishap, that story always seems to include some variation of the phrase “I disabled this safety feature because it was annoying.”

And the more I’ve been thinking about it, it doesn’t seem to matter what it is: the financial crisis, computer security, reactor meltdowns, whatever. It’s always in there somewhere.

So far I’ve managed to avoid that sort of pratfall-with-hot-sharpened-bits during the construction work I’ve had to do. I’ve been lucky, true, but for the work around the house it’s gloves and goggles all the time. So when the cutting wheel on the Dremel snapped off and tried to lodge itself in my eye, that was no problem, because I wear safety glasses. That time I slipped on the piece of wood I was working on, and my hand went right in to the spinning router bit, getting new work gloves cost me seven whole dollars. I go through three or four pairs a year, and they’re substantially easier to replace than fingers.

We get flack for this all the time at work – “Why are you guys so restrictive about permissions? We’re a small team, why not just give everyone access to everything?” And I always look at my hands and think about who’s going to have to mop up the leftovers; it won’t be the person making the request, that’s for sure, but this is why.

Update: Because karma is a wheel and I have not led a fully just life, the very morning after I published an article on safety, I have had a quarter-ton of drywall fall on me and then push me, ass first, through a wood fence. My wife would like you to know that the way I describe this to her makes her laugh.

One Comment

  1. Posted November 25, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Meh. Personally, when I think of “Hoye,” I think of “KirkonSpockerducken,” and I’m pretty sure that’s incompatible with safety.