“It’ll Be Alright”

It’s one of the trickiest turns in this pueblo blanco, here in the south of Spain:

A sharp turn into a narrow street with no sidewalk – right when you crest a short half-circle on an incline, and a very steep incline at that.

For a moment you don’t see where you’re going, and then you’re in that street. Careful careful…

And right there, the other day: a painter’s ladder, right in the middle of the street. Painter on top, bucket of paint dangling high up… idiotically dangerous, to just set up a ladder in a street – especially at that corner.

I wait as the painter brings down his rollers and brushes, then the paint, to then remove the ladder, and as I pass him I stop to ask him if he’s going up the ladder again.


“Well”, I say, “best put some sort of sign on the corner… it’s a dangerous spot here”.

He kinda scoffs and says: “No pasa nada… they’ll see me”.

Gobsmacked, I shift into gear and continue my way.

How amazingly idiotic.

Sure people don’t drive 50 KmH here, but you only need to go fast enough to hit the ladder, and mr Painter falls a good 5 meters.

Sure, people have eyes. But if not falling 5 meters depends on the assumption that people will actually use their eyes too… well, yikes.

To extend the traffic metaphor: the safest driver is a defensive driver. It’s no good to predicate your safety on other people’s ability to drive safely.

Put differently: trust is a good thing to have, but there are situations in which ‘it’ll be alright’ is too risky.

Sometimes, ‘it’ll be alright’ might not be that risky, but IF something would go wrong, it would be too costly.

And if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s good to know when ‘too costly’ or ‘too risky’ require you to ‘put a sign on the corner’, or take whatever precautions you need in order to reduce either risk, or cost, or both.



Also published on Medium.

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