A favorite BBQ place of mine, Mainely Meat on Mt. Desert Island in Maine, has a silhouette of a Sasquatch in the middle of its outside dining area. It’s a fun thing to put the kids next to for a picture. One day, last summer, I was seated behind the Sasquatch and noticed some writing on the back. It said “Please don’t lick me.” It was one of those things that I was not going to be able to let go of without finding out the story.
When I asked the waitress, she said that they felt that they had to place the instructions on Sasquatch after they brought out an order to a table, only to find somebody licking Sasquatch. She finished the story with “I never thought I’d have to tell people to not lick a big wooden silhouette of Sasquatch.”
At that point, I looked at a friend who was dining with us and we both laughed. He is a park ranger and we have both sat down numerous times to share stories of people doing silly things that should have never happened in the first place.
I was sharing this story recently when I was out in the field doing interviews of personnel to write a job description for a public works department. The two employees laughed, started to say that something like that would never happen, and then began to remember some things that they have seen and agreed with my comment that most rules are put in place because of somebody doing something that wasn’t the brightest idea.
At the most simple level, we all deal with this when buying electronics and footwear. Almost all shoes come with a silica gel pack to absorb moisture emblazoned with the instructions “Do Not Eat”. The gel packs are not poisonous but the beads don’t break down and can become a choking hazard – this happens more frequently than one would expect.
Often, TV commercials have disclaimers to remind viewers that a car or motorcycle was driven at high performance levels on closed tracks and that you shouldn’t try it at home or if you aren’t a professional stunt driver.
Recently, popular culture has had several products that have been involved in dangerous fads, such as eating Tide pods. It doesn’t take much to know that consuming a Tide pod is a bad idea but some people still tried it anyway. With the recent pandemic, this has extended to drinking bleach or consuming other chemicals in hopes of preventing an infection.
There is a great Twitter feed, @safetyphoto that reinforces the concept that sometimes we need to remind people not to do something – even though we think that nobody would try doing it. If you’ve had the thought that nobody would be dumb enough to try a certain action, you probably need a sign because it isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when. In the field, I have had people explain to me how they perform certain tasks and then they stop to think for a minute about the process they shared. That pause is typically followed with “You don’t work for OSHA, do you?”
Feel free to share your stories of “things you thought people wouldn’t do” in the comments.