Whatever happened to common sense?

Long ago, walking in Iraklion, Greece, I realized that something was bothering me. Something different. The traffic would swerve away from me if I was looking down at my feet, but if I was alert, it would come quite close to me and pass without slowing down.

I realized this: there was an implicit assumption of competence. If I knew how I was crossing a traffic circle, they would assume I would not leap in front of their vehicles.

I had a similar experience when we camped on the edge of a farm. We were told to open a distant gate if we needed to do so; instructions were not provided. The gate was fastened by a level-2 bent-iron puzzle, which we of course were able to open.

Today one may sue because one did not know that hot coffee can spill onto one’s lap. There are warning signs everywhere: danger, wet floor; danger, uneven pavement; danger, steep slope. I expect to see at any moment the sign, Danger, Gravity in Operation on This Site.

One sign I would love to see, on the front page of all agreement documents, and all terms of service: Danger, polysyllabic obfuscation present. May cause intense misunderstanding and overly generous provider obligation assumptions.

Meanwhile, I marvel at our assumed lack of competence. Whatever happened to common sense?

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