When I was growing up, my father drilled into my head over and over again the importance of being careful in whatever I was doing in order to not make unnecessary mistakes. The message stuck! Being clear and careful about things you are doing is a great habit to develop and is a message I teach all of the time. In fact, I know that I have talked about it in past Tips, but I want to underscore that message again and encourage you to be absolutely certain that what you are doing is right or safe – even when you have already checked and are sure. It is still a good idea to check one more time. You will see what I mean when you hear this story!
One time I acquired some tractor-trailers to put in our back-parking lot for storage space. Many trucking companies sell them for just that purpose. The only problem is without a loading dock there is no easy access to what we have inside the trailers since the door openings stand several feet off of the ground. We have been using a ladder to step up into them and get the things out that we need. However, that process has gotten real old, real fast!
In an effort to eliminate that problem, I decided that the solution would be to build a set of steps that would lead up into each of the trailers. It would give us easy access to walk in and out. The project would not be a large expense and would be a simple thing to do. At our local hardware store, I was directed to some pre-cut steps that were ready for assembly. All I needed were some strong screws and a little muscle to put them together. The gentleman who helped me, however, did caution that I would need to have a sturdy brace underneath all of the steps to make them more stable.
After all the steps were assembled, I leaned them against the back of each truck. Adding the final brace underneath was just a bit more difficult than I had originally thought. So, I asked a friend of mine, who is good with carpentry work, to come give me some advice. He told me that he would be able to easily fix them a few days from now.
In the meantime, I noticed that I could go ahead and use the steps if I was careful not to move them out of place. Even though they were not attached, they seemed to be supported well enough by simply leaning them against the back of the truck. However, I soon became over confident as I went in and out of the trailers.
Later that afternoon I wanted to show my daughter, Esther, my proud accomplishments. One by one we walked up the steps to look inside of the trailers at how things were being rearranged. When we got ready to leave, I failed to realize that both of us on the steps at the same time would create more weight than the steps could bear without the brace. All of a sudden, the steps slid out of place and both of us fell down on top of them. Fortunately, neither of us was hurt too badly, but I felt awful knowing that my daughter was injured because of my carelessness. To hurt myself is one thing, but to hurt someone else simply because you are careless is quite different! It would have only taken a second for me to be a little more careful.
As we were lying on the ground hurting together, I was reminded of a time when she was a little girl that we were getting on a horse together. She was already in the saddle, but when I went to mount up on the horse with her, the saddle slid off and we both fell into the mud, all because I had failed to check the saddle carefully. That was over thirty-five years ago. Hopefully this will be our last fall onto the ground together!
When Esther asked if I was hurt, I said, no; I was only sad that no one was able to record it and submit it to America’s Funniest Videos! We both got a laugh out of that in the midst of our pain. This experience will certainly cause me to be more careful in the future!
Let me beg you, even as I remind myself, to please take a minute to be careful when you are doing anything! Had I not been over confident, my daughter and I would have been safer and would have escaped being scraped and bruised. It would have only taken a moment for me to make sure the steps were more secure. Perhaps carefully looking at a situation one more time will not only save your own neck, but someone else’s as well!
Tip: Even when you are sure – check one more time!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm