I was thinking the other day about some of “Life’s Little Lessons” that I’ve picked up over the years, little “truisms” that I’ve learned in my life that have withstood the test of time.
I’d really like to pass some of this stuff on to my daughters (and the grandkids) and it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t limit the circle too much. So I thought I’d share some of them with you.
Now, be it known, that I’m a Professional Driver by trade for a reason: I’m not a writer, nor am I one with the ability to ‘turn a phrase’, so don’t expect any “it’s always darkest before the dawn” kind of stuff from me.
My mother always used to tell me to “go before I went”, sage advice, that. I’ve heard this thought expressed many different ways, such as “never pass up an opportunity to pee”, but the way my mother phrased it, it always stuck in my brain. (A little sideways, perhaps, but it stuck.) I’ve learned over the years that this same thought can be extrapolated into a “Life Lesson”:
The road ahead is uncertain. Do whatever you can now to reduce unnecessary side trips and make the journey a little more comfortable.
Here is another one from my mother:
Whatever it may be that you need to accomplish in your life, it is only necessary for you to talk to the correct number of people.
I have found that this only works with need. It does not work with want. Maybe it is because things that we want are not necessarily things we need, nor are things that we want necessarily good for us. Need to find financing for a car? It is only necessary for you to talk to the correct number of people. Need some plumbing repairs at a reasonable price? It is only necessary for you to talk to the correct number of people. Haven’t found a solution to “your problem” yet? You have not yet talked to the “correct” number of people. Simple.
Here’s one my father taught me by example:
Always read the Owner’s Manual first, paying particularly close attention to the “Warning” section. Read about all of the amazingly obvious ways people have discovered to hurt themselves with that product. Even smart people like you are not immune to brain farts.
My father, an otherwise intelligent individual, stuck his fingers under the deck on a power lawnmower. That was running. Much pain and blood ensued. I always wondered: “What the hell was he thinking?” For years, I just assumed he wasn’t. Thinking, that is. In my later years, I have come to the following (and, I believe, correct) conclusion: he wanted to clean clippings out of the discharge chute and needed to pick up the mower to do it. His brain just skipped over the part about shutting off the engine. (And that , my friends, is the purest definition of a ‘brain fart’ I’ve ever found.)
A amazingly high percentage of what I’ve learned in my life falls under the heading of:
Life Lessons from the Road.
Pay attention to the task at hand: Drive!
Whenever there is one or more vehicles within one mile of you, always ask yourself these questions: “What is the dumbest, most dangerous, and, in fact, most insane thing that driver could do right now?”, and “What am I going to do when they do it?”. Odds are, they will, and you better have a plan before they do.
If you live or drive where snow or ice may be found on the road, take the time to learn how to drive on slippery surfaces. Find a big, open, and (most importantly), empty parking lot and practice losing control of your vehicle. In doing so, you will learn your limits, and the limits of your vehicle.
And with regard to limits:
Four-wheel drive vehicles don’t stop any better on slippery surfaces than two-wheel drive vehicles. They are, however, very good at lulling you into a false sense of security. Drive accordingly.
With regard to big trucks:
You should feel uncomfortable if you are close to a semi. They are very heavy, very difficult to stop, and surprisingly not easy to maneuver.
Observe the “Four-second Rule” when in front of or behind a semi. (If you can read this, you are probably already too close.)
If you think it’s okay to tailgate a semi, you are wrong. (You could probably see more if you mounted a big piece of plywood on your hood.)[/ul]
[ul]If you think it’s okay to pull out in front of a semi, you are wrong. (I am incapable of suspending the laws of physics just to save your privileged ass.)[/ul]
[ul]If you just passed a semi and think it’s okay to pull back in before you can see both headlights in your rearview mirror, you are wrong. (The space in front of my truck is there for me to stop in. It is not there for you to drive in.)[/ul]
You’re not as good a driver as you think you are. Even if you are (or merely believe you are) very skilled, skill does not trump stupidity. Or brain farts. (Remember - even you are not immune. See above)