Common sense is not so common

Mar 23, 2014


You can instruct someone in science, math, history, etc., but common sense — which is hardly common — is much harder to teach.

Unfortunately almost everyone believes that THEY have common sense and the rest of the world is lacking.

Just as the brainwashed don’t realize they are brainwashed , those who don’t have common sense usually don’t realize it.

I had no idea I’d been born deficient until I went to college, where I learned the truth. It wasn’t my college education that wised me up, but my ability to look in retrospect at the stupid things I’d done.

No need to list them all; I can demonstrate my ignorance by describing my first day on campus.

I went to school in Lakeland, Fla., a school I selected because:

1. It had a good journalism program.

2. It was on a lake, and I love to fish.

3. It was a thousand miles from my home in Ohio. (Confession: That may not be the exact order in which those reasons factored into my decision.)

So after orientation and my parents had returned to Ohio, I was on my own for essentially the first time in my life.

I had my priorities and I knew what I wanted to accomplish that first day: I wanted to get some beer.

I may have been the only student at the school who didn’t have a car to use. That didn’t bother me; back in the mid-1970s, hitchhiking was still an accepted form of transportation. In Ohio, I hitchhiked everywhere. Once in a while you’d get a ride from someone who made you uneasy, but usually people were glad to give you a lift.

I set out for the mall a couple of miles away and got a ride almost as soon as I stuck out my thumb. Soon I was wandering around the air-conditioned shopping center, blowing half the money I had for the month. (Exhibit A).

I bought a few records (this was back before CDs and MP3s), some goodies for my dorm, and then bought a case of Miller beer. Since it was about 100 degrees out, I figured I’d need some ice. Then I needed something in which to store the beer and ice -- a Styrofoam cooler. I didn’t want my beer to get hot under that Florida sun. All the time I was shopping, I never gave a thought as to how I was going to get back with everything I’d bought.(EXHIBIT B).

So with a bag of albums, posters and the like under one arm, I hoisted the cooler full of beer and ice and walked out of the store.

The temperature felt like it had gone up by a couple of hundred degrees. I took a few steps and the cooler full of beer and ice felt like it weighed a couple of hundred pounds.

By the time I reached the street, I had to set everything down. I thought I was going to pass out.

Up went my thumb. Cars whizzed by. It’s hard to get a ride when you’re loaded down with stuff and look as though you’re about to die from heat stroke.

I walked 30 feet or so, then set everything down again and once more tried for a ride, once more with no results.

An hour later and I’d dumped out half the ice to lighten the load, but the cooler still felt 50 times heavier than when I’d left the store. And the air felt 50 times hotter. I looked on the ground to see if it was the ice or me that was melting.

An hour later and I was still a mile from school with no sign that anyone would ever stop. That’s when I saw the taxi.

To say I signaled the driver would be an understatement. I practically threw myself in front of the cab, which screeched to a halt. The driver told me it would cost me $16 to get a ride back to my dorm. At that point, if he’d said $1,000 and I had it, I would have paid it.

So I took the only taxi ride of my life, an entire mile back to school, but at least the cab was air-conditioned and I didn’t have to carry my stuff.

I got out of the cab, paid the driver, collected my load and began the long, steaming-hot walk to my dorm room -- at least a couple of hundred feet away. I went to dump out the rest of the ice but watched water drain from the cooler instead. There was no ice left; it had all melted. My ice-cold beer was lukewarm. My records had warped from the heat. And I’d spent almost every cent I had to make it through the month.

It’s fair to say I was not the brightest bulb in the box. In fact, it’s likely I was the dimmest.

But I did learn one important lesson: Never buy more beer than you can carry.



"Common sense is not so common"

Thank you Captain Obvious!

AJ Oliver

Hey Bob - That was funny. As you so well illustrate, people who have not done their homework (or research), and rely on what is obvious "common sense" (to them), are often dead wrong - not to mention easily manipulated - and suffer negative consequences.


Re: "Never buy more beer than you can carry."

@ Mr. Russ:

The 'rest' of the story:

So what did you do the next time that you wanted beer?

You were 21 yrs. of age?

Back in the day: Warm beer was better than no beer. :)


I know in the early 70's they had 3.2 beer for 18-21 year olds, but don't remember how long that lasted till legal age went to 21 and 3.2 beer was gone. I know back then some states had legal age of 18 for drinking (Michigan for one) some had 3.2 beer (Ohio for one) and some states was 21 for drinking. I don't remember what Florida was back then... we all used to know most of the states where drinking age was 18... that was where we went on vacation or Spring Break.


Re: "I don't remember what Florida was back then.."

In the early 70s it was 21. But many didn't card.

NY was 18 for liquor. A friend and I once drove to Buffalo and loaded up the trunk.

Do you remember "Goebel's"? 99¢ @ 6 pk. Nasty swill - but cheap!

thinkagain's picture

"back in the mid-1970s, hitchhiking was still an accepted form of transportation."

Put over 10,000 miles on my thumb one year during that time frame. Ohio, Florida, Arizona, California, Washington, Wyoming, etc... Picked up by all sorts of people, everyone from a car load of drunk Indians to a car full of blacks in a ghetto. It was a time when men of different races called each other brother.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Common sense as illustrated must be earned through experience and sometimes even born from tragedy. Or rather it is only a true tragedy if nothing is ever learned from the hardship. I hope everyone lives life, chips some teeth, earns a scar, or otherwise has some stories to tell so that the next generation may be a bit better than we.

"Human beings, who are almost unique for having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." - Douglas Adams