Monday, June 18, 2018

Intelligence Is Neither Wisdom Nor Prudence Nor Judgment

     Take note, all you cockeyed optimists out there.

     From behind the Uber-Curmudgeon persona types a 66-year-old man in shaky health. (The traditional phrase is “one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.”) I thank God for all my blessings, emphatically including the shaky health. Here’s why.

     Yesterday afternoon, a dear friend named Joe, perhaps the brightest and most capable person I’ve ever known, did a stupid thing: He mounted a ladder. Now, for many persons that would not be deemed an unduly hazardous thing to do...but Joe is 71 years old. He fell from that ladder, breaking his pelvis and nearly all his ribs and compromising his lungs badly enough to require intubation. He spent the day in the ICU, has already undergone one bout of surgery and will undergo another quite soon. Whether Joe will survive his mishap is unclear.

     Joe and I have several things in common...but not the “shaky health” part. Joe is (was) robustly healthy and looks (looked) twenty years younger than his calendar age. He retired from law enforcement just last year. I’m certain he mounted that ladder thinking nothing would happen to him...certainly nothing of the sort that did.

     I would never have mounted that ladder; I know I’m aged and frail. My shaky health would have defended me against such an error of judgment. Joe didn’t have my advantage. Nothing had ever hurt him before this.

     You, the Temporarily Able-Bodied, should start cultivating some respect for the perils that come with advancing age BEFORE you get to your fifties and sixties. Gravity is not your friend. Neither are machines with fast-moving parts. Neither are doe-eyed young women wearing pleading looks. (Admittedly, that last temptation can be hard to resist. Resist anyway. You’ll thank me.)

     An IQ that resembles a California zip code is no good unless you remember to use it. Ask Joe when he comes out of surgery later today.


Kye said...

I pray for Joe's speedy recovery. I know where you're coming from Mr. P. I am waiting for a bilateral lung transplant (for 18 months now) and that dictates my activities. I'm 67 and other than two blown-out lungs in perfect health but I can't even get on a step stool to change a high-het bulb. OTOH my 73 year old buddy who is "in perfect health" like Joe decided to climb up and clean his own gutters (I pay a guy a whopping $140 to do mine) because he's a cheap skate. He too did a header off the roof (2 stories) and now may be permanently confined to a wheel chair.

The moral as you pointed out is just because you feel and look great at 60 or 70 does not change the fact you are 60 or 70 and should act like it. Although the young women wearing pleading looks may be worth the risk but cleaning gutters isn't.

ligneus said...

Much of this is not so much due to age as to experience. I'm 82 and still working on construction,I know how to work safely. Can I assume that for both of these fine guys climbing ladders and such was not an everyday activity? I saw an article once on homeowner accidents, these guys were mostly young, smart, lawyers, bankers, office workers of some kind, but for physical work and operating machinery they were amateurs. City people too.

CGHill said...

At sixty-four and ambulatory only with the aid of a walker, I'd like to think I'm sensible enough to stay off ladders. I could be wrong, though.