Saturday, 27 September 2014

Risk Averse?


When I was a child, I was told that you should never switch a light on or off with wet hands, because electricity and water don’t mix – or rather, they mix too well.  I thought this was stupid – how could the electricity possibly get out of that sealed insulated switch and connect up with the tiny amount of water on my finger?  I got no sympathy.  “Just don’t do it.”  There’s no arguing with these grown-ups.  So I didn’t, and drying my hands before operating the light became a lifelong habit.

I remembered that this morning when, after cleaning my teeth, I switched the light on to shave: with a wet finger, of course.  One day back in the early spring, I’d nicked my face shaving.  Now this is not a good idea when you’re on Warfarin.  My blood clots half as quickly as most people’s.  I’d been wet-shaving for fifty years, and cut myself maybe a dozen times, but that wasn’t the point.  So I went out and bought an electric razor.  I don’t particularly like it, and it doesn’t do the job as well, but you can’t be too careful, can you?

But a change is under way.  I emerged from the hospital a fortnight ago clutching a raft of advice and prohibitions, some of which were about driving.  Depending on which leaflet you read and who you listened to, the recommendations varied bewilderingly.  I had to wait for six weeks before I could get behind the wheel; four weeks; two weeks; and “not until I felt ready.”  A couple of days ago I felt ready, so I thought what the heck and nipped up to Waitrose.  I seem to have survived.

So I may have been overly risk-averse for much of my life.  On the other hand, I did walk away in 1965 from a promising career in a glass shop to join a rock ‘n’ roll band.  But that was an emotional decision, not a rational one.

5 comments :

  1. If the group had been Mick Jagger's combo I could have said "people who work in glass shops shouldn't throw Stones". I'll get my coat. Glad you've made it to Waitrose en voiture.

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  2. Exploring alternative realities is always fun, Rog. On the other hand, if that one had come true I certainly wouldn't have been writing this blog, and so you wouldn't have had the chance to suggest it. So it all worked out for the best.

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  3. I can remember our father trying to explain electricity to me by treating me to tiny electric shocks in his workshop - which probably explains quite a lot! But I did learn a bit about batteries which has been no use at all to me in later life.

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  4. When we were children, quite a lot of light switches were made of metal. And I did once get a shock from one. I didn't have wet hands at the time, which was probably just as well.

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  5. Good point, Z, I remember those too. What were the designers thinking of?? It does reinforce my point, that learned behaviour can persist long after it's ceased to be useful, though.

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