On my morning bicycle ride George and I stopped at Starbucks…what a surprise. This morning was a good one, leisurely (kind of, George has discovered Wheaties or something, spent all morning chasing him) in that we chatted for an extended period of time at Starbucks. George is our Celebrate Recovery director here at the church and was just back from the CR Summit, so it was a good conversation and update on the ministry. As we were talking, my straw packaging caught my eye. It had some writing on it, and I was thinking: “Maybe they have put some funny or pithy statements on the straw packaging, like a fortune cookie – or Chipotle.”
Well, as you can see, there is a warning on the straw:
“Not recommended For Use in Hot Beverages.”
I couldn’t help myself. I started thinking about the process and motivation behind the printing of this particular warning on a straw. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone, ever, use a straw for their hot tea or coffee. I mean look at the lids, the holes are too small. So, someone, somewhere got the bright idea that it would be more convenient to use a straw with “extra hot” coffee and scalded the roof of their mouth. Having no shame they returned to the Starbucks to complain at a very minimum, or even more embarrassing they hired a lawyer, explained their stupidity and made it a public record. In response to this stupidity, Starbucks feels compelled to print the warning on the straw. The executive, management and production costs associated with this process would probably shock us.
And I thought, all because we have lost common sense.
Here are some other examples of the “need” that companies or government feel to protect us from our own stupidity:
This was seen at a local car wash where the woman in front of me needed to come back and read this. She couldn’t seem to get her car to rest “just over the bump” but just kept going. I actually got a free car wash out of it.
This next picture was taken at a crosswalk in Kirkland Washington, home of Costco:
I felt so much safer (as you can see from the photo, my bald head way ahead of the Joe the flagman who is cautiously paying attention to traffic), but as you can see, no one has been killed carrying the flag, whereas 62 people were killed or injured while flagless.
But onto a more serious example of the need for common sense in the tragic, and then unbelievably ridiculous blame shifting that is created when we concede to the silliness of common senselessness. This last weekend eight people were killed after being struck by an out of control truck at a truck race in the Lucerne Valley (Mojave Desert). The California 200 is a race with amateur drivers. The race rules state that spectators should stand a minimum of 150 feet from the track, but the track is not “clearly” delineated (?) although it is fairly obvious where the track is because spectators form a sort of human guardrail no more than 10 feet from the track as you can see in this photo.
Here is the common sense challenge: 10 feet from trucks driving 80-120 miles per hour on a dirt track with jumps is dangerous. I don’t need a white line, a small or large fence, cones or any other demarcation, all I need is the roar of a truck going that fast to conclude: DANGEROUS. If I choose to stay that close, I take the risk upon myself. It is tragic that people were killed, but the real challenge in all of this is that the driver was forced to flee the scene because irate and overly distraught bystanders actually thought it might be his fault and began to pelt him with rocks!!!
So now everyone is scrambling to figure out what went wrong and how to keep it from happening in the future, good luck because common sense has left the building.