Being safe is just overreacting

Back when I was a high school student, I faced a conundrum every time an exam came around.

Do I study for it or not?

It seems it happened every time: if I studied for an exam, the teacher would give us an easy one. If I didn’t study, that would be the time that the teacher gave us a tough exam.

I could never get it right.

Of course, you are all enjoying a laugh at my expense (that is to say, you are laughing AT me and not WITH me). Exams are easy when you prepare for them, and they only seem tough when you don’t study.

If that is so obvious, then why are we giving the medical profession such a hard time over Swine Flu?

It seems to me that if we actively fight off a pandemic, then it won’t happen.

Yet, when it doesn’t happen, we accuse politicians (and the doctors they rely on) for overreacting.

Remember “The Millennium Bug” or “Y2K”? It was thought that our computing devices – from home computers to environmental-control systems and from vehicles to aircraft – would roll back to 1900 and cause all kinds of mayhem.

Engineers and technicians put in a lot of overtime over three years to ensure this would not happen. Then nothing happened. Instead of offering congratulations and our gratitude, we, the public, smirked.

But we weren’t smirking when Katrina battered the United States’ Gulf Coast and there was little reaction by the federal government. We can all agree that overreaction was called for that time.

I like it when professionals overreact. I like it when my doctor sends me to the hospital for blood tests for the sole reason that it has been two years since the last time I went in.

I like it when our contractor laid cement board under our tiled floor in the new washroom.

I like it when Daisy’s financial adviser convinced her to move her retirement savings into GICs one year ago.

I didn’t like it much when my financial adviser didn’t advise me.

I’m just saying, overreacting is a good thing and it is a hallmark of professionals … and not just those who have initials after their names.

I was picking up some wood at Kilrich Industries, last weekend, and a young fellow was cutting them down for me. He didn’t like the wobble of the saw blade, so he called a co-worker over. The first thing he said to him was, “The saw is on.”

The other gentleman said, “OK, it is on. Turn it off now.”

The young fellow said, “It is turned off.” This was repeated back to him.

See? Professionalism. Safe.

As a customer, I like to see that. It tells me that this local company has a culture of safety … of professionalism. So, heck, the wood must be of good quality, too.

The purpose of this missive today is to help counteract perceptions that overreaction is a bad thing.

Just because we wear hats, sunglasses and sun screen, it doesn’t mean we are squeamish. It just means we acknowledge that too much sun can cause cancer. The proof is there; why would we ignore it?

It is just as true that Swine Flu can kill. Indeed, it has already. Yet some of us are scoring cheap shots criticizing the closing of some schools when it is later learned that no other cases are reported amongst the school population.

Swine Flu may disappear for a while and then it could come back even stronger. I don’t know this for a fact; this is just what I have read. So, I feel very comfortable just sitting back and letting the professionals make the decisions.

So, a personal note to our medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley: If you feel the urge to overreact … go for it. That’s what we pay you for.

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