Chain Reaction

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My usual gym time is just after 8AM but my path takes me in the opposite direction of the morning rush. This morning, there was an accident on the highway in the direction that everyone needs to go. It looked like a minor thing and nobody appeared to be hurt. It just got me to thinking about how little random events can have big impacts.

I have no idea what caused it but I’m guessing it was likely a little distraction where someone wasn’t totally aware of the situation around them. In heavy traffic and at higher speeds, it really doesn’t take much more than glancing away for a second or so to miss the car ahead of you having to stop and then not having the reaction time or space to avoid the collision.

Obviously, the drivers/families of the two cars are impacted. They have to sit there and fill out paperwork and then deal with insurance claims and getting estimates and then getting repair work done. Probably lots of juggling of cars involved and time needed to meet with the claims adjuster and all the jazz that goes with the after effect of an accident. Do they have to shuffle time away from work to be able to do this?

But you could also see traffic starting to back up. People who drive on busy roads to work probably see this as the traffic lottery. Some days you win and the drive is easy. Some days, the house wins and you sit in stopped traffic for some length of time. How many of those people had early morning meetings or other work related activities that will potentially have to be changed. How many of them have to get on the phone in the traffic jam to make other plans. How many get penalized for being late to work (it happens) and will have to explain this one away.

When I was managing, I had several people on my team who had long commutes to work. If someone wasn’t in at the normal time, we’d start checking traffic reports to see if the highways were a mess. Sometimes, we’d get texts from them saying they were stuck in traffic. And then we’d often have to meet and readjust the workload if someone was needed for a particular study at a particular time.

Again, I have no idea what actually caused this accident but I know that a common reason is people not paying attention. Getting distracted by a phone call, or having to look at their GPS or maybe reacting to spilling a drink. All because we assume we can multitask and maybe because driving seems so easy that we just don’t realize the possible impact of even a small distraction. Its why they teach you to stay aware of the situation around you. I think driving is one of those things where everyone overestimates their own abilities and underestimates the reaction time needed to correct something when driving at highway speeds.

Now I have to call myself out because I was guilty of a similar thing on my drive to the gym. I have Sirius XM in my car and they are constantly updating the channels so they can tell you what good things they are doing for you. The problem is that every update knocks out one or more of my presets. As I’m backing out, I notice the thing is updating and, when it finishes, all of my presets are gone. So I’m scrolling through the channels to reset everything. I can use the excuse that I knew there weren’t a lot of cars around me but, in the end, there was no reason not to wait until I was stopped to reset things.

Saw my old trainer at the gym this morning. She was running off somewhere and I was using one of the machines so we didn’t have time for more than just the “hi”. I had been thinking of her earlier (weird) because I just found these things at the gym. They honestly make me think of leg irons except the things that go around your ankles are Velcro and, instead of a chain, it is a stretchy cord. She used to have me do monster walks with an elastic band around my ankles but these are little easier to get on and off. This is one of those exercises that looks silly but it really works a few things.

Well I think I have to draw this to a close. My last meeting with my career coach is on Thursday and I said I’d have my LinkedIN updates done so she could review it. I got a notification the other day that someone from my old place of work reviewed my profile. It was listed as “graduate student” so I have no idea who it could be. Wonder if someone heard my name a bunch of times and decided to see what the deal was.

Alright, I’m done for today.

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