Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week Ten – it’ll never happen to me!

What are the odds? When you play the lottery the chances of winning are far too high for some people to care, but it only takes one set of numbers to win!

How often in life have we thought, “it will never happen to me!” This mentality comes from the fact that we know in many situations the odds of something happening are far too high. The safest mode of transport known to man is an airplane. The odds of you dying on a car crash are far higher than on a plane. However, the more you flight, the higher the odds and considering that last year I took 123 single flights puts me at a higher risk of dying in a plane crash than someone who just took a flight to go on vacation. But the interesting thing about odds is that yes I increase my chances by taking more flights, but like the lottery, it only takes one flight to put an end to someone’s life. Do odds then become bad luck? That person who only takes one flight per year, ends on the plane destine for a fatal crash? Whatever it is, we know that everything in life is a gamble, a risk you have to take and the more you do it the higher the risk, but in the end it only takes one set of number or being on the plane for it to happen.

I became aware of this concept this week as I began to observe an interesting behaviour in people. Risk taking is something we human being are good at. We love to take risks. And often our attitude becomes defiant and superior to the risk and odds involved in the things we do. We are all guilty of this, it is in our nature, and we all, at some point or another, thought, “it will never happen to me” whether consciously or unconsciously. Let me give you some examples.

In the UK as I am sure in many other countries, when you travel by what we call Coach (long distance Buses) you are required by law to wear your seatbelt. This enforcement of the law, like many similar requirements, has come about as a result of fatal accidents and people loosing their lives. A bus carrying 56 people, if it crashes, could have serious fatal consequences and depending on how sever the crash is, may claim many if not all lives. However, wearing a seatbelt may decrease your chances of loosing your life. If the Coach overturns, the belt may just keep you strapped to your seat and stop you from rolling around and either causing long term damage or claim your life. It’s a simple premise, buckle up and increase your chances of staying a live! And it is not a terrible inconvenience to sit secured to your seat. So why do people don’t do it? It’s beyond comprehension. This week I had a coach driver that took her job very seriously and the safety of her passengers was clearly number one to her. This is reassuring when she has in her hands the lives of 56 people. So she ensured, unlike other drivers, that everyone had buckled up! She walked through the coach checking everyone had done his or her seatbelts up. There was a lady seating next to me on the other side of the aisle. She was not wearing her belt and the driver, politely asked her to put it on. With a strop she did (how inconvenient I’m sure she thought) and the driver then took her sit. As soon as we started moving the woman took it off! And I thought, “well, there you have a rabble without a cause!” At the next stop, more passengers came on, the driver did again her routine and the lady, before the driver reached her seat, strapped herself on. And as soon as the driver walked away she again took it off and this is when it downed on me, who was she fooling, the driver or herself? If the coach crashes, it’s not the driver who looses but her, risking her life just to be a bit more comfortable. I am sure this lady’s mentality was “it will never happen to me”

Being now aware of this, I spend the week looking for this behaviour as I travel and it was amazing to see how many people take risks consciously or unconsciously thinking, “it will never happen to me”; here are other amazing examples of this behaviour:

I was in a mini bus with a group of people going out for dinner, I strapped myself in and another person followed, the rest sat chatting and enjoying the ride. When I challenged everyone to wear their seatbelts one person said, “No need, it’s only round the corner” remember it only takes a second to be in a car crash!

On the plane you are reminded by the Capitan and crew to always wear your seatbelts while sited even if the signs are off. What may be thinking what could be the danger; the plan is not just going to suddenly stop! If an airplane goes through what they call air-pockets it can suddenly drop, if you are not strapped in, you will end up like a pancake, tossed too high and stuck to the ceiling! If you didn’t know this could happen and one of the reason why you are asked to wear your seatbelts, it is still not an excuse not to follow instructions, remember what I said at the beginning, these safety measures are in place usually as a result of a previous experience, so you don’t need to know why you are asked to do something, specially when they tell you is for your own safety! But despite the announcements and reminders, as soon as the “fasten your seatbelt” sing comes off, people unstrapped themselves! I’m sure they are thinking, “What can happen to me?”

I also saw several people using their mobile phones while driving, and not just talking but texting. I am guilty of this and often my wife reminds me of the grave danger I put my family when I do it. And guess what? Yes I have often though “it’s only one second”; but again, it only takes one moment of distraction to end up on the back of someone else’s car. By the way yesterday I was driving and I needed to check something on my phone, I took it out looked at it and handed it over to my wife! I try to do what I preach! J

And so on, the examples of how defiant we are kept on flooding in; people standing in front of the yellow line on the platform waiting for the train (the line is there as a safety measure not to get knocked by the passing train), crossing the streets with a red light (we always believe we can be quicker than the incoming traffic!), driving slightly faster to save 1 minute (in a car crash fatalities are high the faster you are going) And the more I observed the more I became conscious of this terrible fault we have as Human Beings; putting our safety in unnecessary risk situations because somehow we think “it will never happen to me”. I am a great believer that if its your time to go its your time to go and there is nothing you can do about it, I have no doubt about that, but if we can avoid increasing the chances of something happening to us, why wouldn’t you wear a seatbelt?

Take care; some times as they say it’s better to be safe than sorry and believe me, from now on I am defiantly going work on reducing the chances of me not being able to finish this project of writing 52 blogs! I need to get to the end! J

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