Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. Anyone over the age of, say, two and a half knows this saying to be true. Some of us with a few decades more maturity might even be willing to admit it
But it’s also true that, once in a while, good judgment grows out of someone else’s bad judgment. Humans, being wise and adaptable creatures, can sometimes learn valuable lessons from watching what happens to those around us.
Here are a few second-hand pieces of good judgment I have learned:
1. Before I walk on the treadmill, I always tie my shoes in double knots. I learned this from the experience of a friend whose shoelace came untied, caught in the roller of the treadmill, and pulled her to her knees for several very painful minutes until she could loosen her shoe enough to escape. But that’s not all—while I walk on the treadmill, I always use the safety cord. The magnet on one end must be attached to the treadmill in order for it to operate. The idea is to clip the other end to your clothes, so in case you slip or trip or are the victim of your own loose shoelace, the treadmill will stop instantly when your falling body pulls the magnet loose. Any time I’m tempted to not bother with the clip, I remember what my friend’s legs looked like. You generally only see scabs that impressive on the knees of novice nine-year-old roller skaters.
2. If I need to hang a picture, change a light bulb, or reach something on a high shelf, I take time to go to downstairs and get the stepstool. Or at least I go to the dining room and get a sturdy wooden chair. Because I learned the following from one of the members of my family: even if you’re in a hurry, and you’re just going to do one quick little thing, and the only chair in the room happens to be one on wheels, it’s really, really not a good idea to stand on that chair. True, you might save a minute or two by not taking time to go get something less mobile to stand on. But that isn’t much of a benefit when you balance it against spending several hours in the emergency room waiting for the doctor to set your broken wrist.
3. If I have my cell phone in the back pocket of my jeans, and I need to answer a call of nature, I first park the phone somewhere safe like the bathroom counter. I formed this habit after another member of my family had her phone slip out of her pocket and land with an embarrassing splash in the toilet. I also learned from her experience that one possible way to dry out a phone is to seal it into a bag of uncooked rice for a day. It may or may not work but is worth a try. If nothing else, the pain of being out of communication with the wider world for 24 hours serves as a reminder to be more careful in the future.
Careful, the way I am, with my phone-protecting behavior. Okay, there was that one time. Yes, I left the phone on the counter in someone else’s house. Yes, I was traveling at the time and had to drive some 50 miles out of my way the next day to retrieve it. But at least it was dry when I got there.
Really, the whole incident was so trivial I don’t even know why I mentioned it. But if you gain any good judgment from my humbling—er, humble experience, you’re more than welcome.