When it comes to proving the wisdom of certain rules, I generally prefer to merely accept said wisdom without the need or desire of pragmatic demonstration. Take, for example, “yield to oncoming traffic when making a left-hand turn.” Apart from the sense of common courtesy, there is also the self-preserving courtesy of common sense. Exposing one’s flank, so to speak, to several thousand pounds of mobile steel inertia, would quite likely result in significant damage to property and expose one to rather impressive amounts of pain. Therefore, the wisdom of the rule.
One rule, cast in iron and reinforced with the determined passion of ancient barbaric armies, relates to liquid substances around desktop computers. “No food or drink in the computer lab” was placarded prominently in every computer location back in the Nineteen Seventies, when computers were still powered by hand cranks and vacuum tubes. It seemed rather intuitive, actually, that spilling liquid onto and into the various components of electronic equipment would not be conducive to their continued effective operation.
And yet it was, on a chilly December day, that I sat at my desk, pouring myself a nice generous serving of orange juice into a large plastic cup. There was no spilling of the drink as I poured from jug to slug. There was no careless sloshing or incompetent manipulation of the dispensing or receiving containers. Not a drop landed other than where it was intended.
Until I reached for the plastic cap lying on the desk just beyond the plastic cup. What happened next was almost immortal, yet painfully mortal.
No human was injured nor was history altered, yet the demonstration was amply dramatic to remind me of the wisdom of a simple rule. It is ironic, I think, that some of humankind’s most dramatic Darwin Moments occur when we fail to use the Good Sense That God Gave Us.