Sunday, 23 November 2008

Excellent use of the materials at hand? Are you resourceful?
Excellent use of the materials at hand.

That's what I think of when I hear 'resourceful.' 

Then there is the opposite of resourceful. I can't decide if it's impatience, selfishness, expediency or some kind of sense of being indestructible, or even that it just doesn't matter, really.

That the consequences, whatever they may be, are deemed not important enough (or is it likely enough) to sway the decision.

Unbelievable decisions have become something of a theme around here these days. The tragedy that started me thinking about this was a 32-year-old who fell off the 15th floor of my daughter's building and died from the impact with a balcony rail and a concrete planter and the ground. Her distraught co-workers and friends insist 'it wasn't stupid it was just poor judgement' ... which is a synonym, I thought, but whatever...

Now I think: if there was anything I wanted my kids to take with them into adulthood, it was a sense that there is more than one way to accomplish anything, and it's usually a good idea to think of more than one before acting on a plan. The aforementioned woman had locked her keys in her apartment and instead of any of these choices:
  • get the other set from her new husband, at work 6 blocks away
  • call a locksmith and pay $50 to be let into her home
  • call the manager and have him use the passkey (no cost)
  • wait somewhere else until her husband arrives home from work (several hours)
  • try breaking in herself
  • find some strong guys to break the door down
  • get the keys from her husband, get another set cut and return his keys to him
Which seem to me to mostly be pretty sensible ideas... Instead, she decided to climb down to her 14th floor apartment from the apartment directly above, without a safety line. I've done a small, informal survey: no one, of any age, who I've ever talked to about this has ever thought it was a smart idea.
My daughter lived on the 17th floor, and I wouldn't have leaned over that railing to catch any falling object (I'd make a stab for one of my kids, but otherwise, not even for a cat.) I'm not wigged out by the height, I think it's fun to look over the edge and see all the little stuff below, but I wouldn't throw my weight against the railing for anything.

The apartments in this building have 10' ceilings, and there is no 13th floor (or, rather, the 14th is the 13th floor) so when she landed on the ground level with the 2nd floor, she fell more than 120 feet. 

A review of her plan: instead of hesitating or being talked out of this idiotic plan by the wise, elderly woman who tried, this not-young woman decided it was so important that she make her apartment perfect for her new husband that she would not be swayed from what appears to be the first solution that occurred to her, full of confidence that she would absolutely succeed because, as she told the neighbour, 'I climb mountains.' of the unfortunate realities of life is that sometimes the single dumbest thing we ever decide to do is also the single last thing we ever do. 
If you can't be a good example, at least you can be a horrible warning.
This story, and all the folks who one way or another make it into the Darwin Award nomination list, points to a sense of 'I couldn't (or didn't) think of anything else to do in the situation.' This lack of creativity just astounds me.

So, kids, resourcefulness may some day save your life, without you ever really noticing.

1 comment:

  1. Let's all pursue multi-plan thinking instead of going with our first impulses every time. Then there would be fewer Darwin awards!