The day started poorly. We used to keep a glass jar containing change on top of the fridge. Somehow this jar had shifted so it was sitting on the top of the freezer door – resulting in a crude booby trap, eagerly awaiting the first hapless soul who needed to retrieve his precious coffee.
After finishing vacuuming glass shards I headed off to catch the bus to the city. When I got off the bus I instinctively patted my pockets to check for keys and wallet – and discovered the wallet was missing. Thankfully I had only taken four steps before realising this, and another passenger saw the wallet on the seat and handed it back to me.
There are two important lessons that others can learn from my misfortune. The first is prevention – where possible and practical avoid scenarios where an accident is likely to occur. Since the glass jar was near the fridge door all it took was some other unrelated event (such as moving a phone book) to shift the jar to a dangerous position. Prevention is very important for parents and is why we ‘baby-proof’ a house by doing such things as covering electrical powerpoints, and putting locks on cupboards containing dangerous items (such as cleaning fluid).
The second lesson is the importance of routines and processes to address risks and catch mistakes. I habitually check for my phone and pat my pockets whenever I leave my desk or restaurant table – because I know I can leave items behind. Even if the kindly passenger didn’t see my wallet I would have detected it was missing almost straight away.
Another process I have is to never put the petrol cap on top of the car when refuelling, in case I forget to replace it and drive off. Thankfully this has never happened – but it’s something I want to avoid.
Mistakes and accidents are going to happen but there are simple and common-sense ways to minimise the risk. Let me know if you have any tricks or suggestions!