Sunday, November 5, 2017

know a little, ignoring a lot

A story keeps rattling around in my brain this morning -- of a time when I worked at a logging camp in Oregon when I was 19. There were several dangers associated with the work. These included carelessness with the dynamite used to uproot stumps and the driving of Caterpillar bulldozers that dragged newly-cut logs to the trucks that would cart them away. Since the terrain was steep, bulldozers occasionally tipped over and killed the driver... misjudging the angle of a hill and how much traction might be available was no small matter.

One day, I was talking to one of the Cat drivers and asked him how the dangers of tip-over were avoided. He said that newcomers were not the problem: They were aware of how much they didn't know and tried hard to learn ... they were careful, not careless. Old timers were similarly careful because they had been around long enough to realize that however much they knew, there were still things to learn and be careful about. The ones who got killed were the guys in the middle -- the ones who had learned a little and were convinced they had no more to learn. They were cocky and lazy and every now and then, they paid with their lives. I guess that story holds true for a lot of situations in life -- imagining everything's settled when in fact the learning never ends.

I'm really not entirely sure who is more dangerous -- the ones who know or the ones who don't. Either way, I'd prefer not to be rolled over by a Caterpillar.

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