I consider myself relatively intelligent I’m not one of those super smart people, but when I apply myself, I can usually understand moderately complex ideas.
My Maifan-San, on the other hand, is all sorts of brainy bright. Between the two of us, I think we do rather well in the cognitive thinking parts of life.
We both went to college, (he has a masters, I muddle along with my BA), we both value science and try to flex our critical thinking skills on a regular basis. We read nonfiction for crying out loud… and we enjoy it.
Ok, stage is set.
I, as a representative for Gay Central Valley, was invited several months ago to be on the Fresno County Tobacco-Free Coalition. The goal of the coalition seems readily apparent, but what I found fascinating was the variety of organizations that were represented in the membership.
Fresno Housing authority
Fresno HIV Prevention Program
Fresno Dept of Public Health
Performing Above The High
CA Health Collaborative Lock It Up Project
… and more than 5 tobacco / health related organizations as well.
The coalition does a lot of good work, but one thing stuck out in my mind.
At the end of the meeting, each representative is invited to share upcoming events that their organization is running or promoting. (So, for example, I always pitch the latest GCV events, etc).
At my first meeting, a man named Ahmad from the Fresno County Child Health Disability Prevention Program mentioned that a car seat inspection was coming up… a place and time where people could bring their cars and car seats in to get a free safety check.
Gentle readers, I must admit I inwardly scoffed at this idea.
Car seats: they come with instructions manuals. There are only so many belts and buckles back there. How hard can it be to get them in right?
So, I asked: “How many people do that wrong?”
Turns out, almost 90% of the people who bring their seats in, do it wrong.
This is a self selecting group of people who wondered if they did it right and then bothered to show up at an event to make sure.
(What about all the snotty people like myself who assume that a monkey could do it and never get it checked? What would our percentage be?)
Ok… so I started thinking, Why? Well, maybe you don’t speak the language of the instruction manual. Maybe your car sat is a hand me down and didn’t come with an instruction manual. Maybe you are one of the millions who doesn’t “get” written instructions anyways and has to ask the neighbor for help when it comes to putting together particle board bookshelves. Maybe there are other reasons too… how dare I judge?
We installed it. We were quite pleased with ourselves.
But… we decided that it couldn’t hurt to have it double checked. I mean, it is our infant we are talking about. Well worth the time and hassle to double check, right? I was pretty confident we had done it right, but hey… I’m a responsible member of society, why not get it checked.
There weren't any events coming up that we could get to before she is scheduled to arrive… so we contacted the CHP (who also does the checks one day a week) and AAA, who –since we are members- does it any day and for free.
And… we had done it wrong.
We are now part of the 90%.
Apparently, the instruction manuals can be misleading. Apparently we are not alone in making the mistake of using all the belts and buckles and hooks and what not.
The AAA people were very nice about it, the whole process took less than 15 minutes, and they didn’t mock us.
But I’m still embarrassed… Embarrassed that I judged so harshly, that I assumed that book smarts and a college education allowed me to have practical world knowledge that I lacked, embarrassed that even having been told “lots of people do it wrong” we did it wrong.
Embarrassed, but thankful.
Thankful that we were able to get it checked, thankful that we were able to fix it. Thankful that now we know we have made her car seat as safe as possible.
Hey... I might not be as smart as I thought I was... but I do tend to learn from my mistakes and missteps... and that should count for something, right?
Information about where you can get your car seat checked (and I highly recommend it), can be found here.