You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Will Rogers used to say that it was easy to be a humorist.  He had the whole congress writing material for him.  Not too different today.  Certainly Jon Stewart has no trouble finding worthy material.

Here is another.

On Tuesday, December 17 a huge fire in Kingston Ontario engulfed a construction site.  Crane operator, Adam Jastrezbski, was forced by smoke and heat to leave the cab of his 168 foot high crane and crawl along the boom to the very tip to avoid the conflagration that threatened his life.  From this precarious position he was saved by a military Search and Rescue team from nearby Trenton air base.

crane rescue

CBC News photo.

I felt a that this was a tribute to the military and to their skilled people.  Also to the crane operator who had the skill and presence of mind to give himself a chance.  Someone has a Christmas with their family when realistically there was no reason to believe he would.

Strangely, it appears that there are other possible reactions to this event.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is concerned that there was a material breach of protocol in that Mr Jastrezbski ignored their clearly established safety rules by going onto the boom without wearing a harness.


This shows the nature of rules.  Once they are established, the idea behind them and the context within which they should apply is lost.  They become like the finger pointing at the moon.  The finger is not the moon and if you focus on the finger you do not see the moon.

As a person, an employer, a parent, a spouse, an investor, or a regulator, pay attention to the meaning of the rule.  Absolute compliance will never happen anyway and you will become an automaton if you think the rule is the most important thing.

As in this case, pay attention to the guideline nature of the rule.  There should be allowable exceptions.  The context for a rule can never be fully known in advance so unforeseeable events should be at least admitted as theoretically possible.

Rules should not become a suicide pact between the citizens and some agency or other.  Regulators should periodically use common sense if only for the novelty of doing so.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.  |  Twitter @DonShaughnessy  |  Follow by email at moneyFYI

One Comment on “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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