• Tom

Tom's Common Sense 101

Updated: Aug 14, 2018

I am constantly amazed at - well, how can I put this mildly - the lack of common sense in some folks out there. (None of my readers, of course!) But some folks... well, you just wonder, were they raised in the back-country by wolves?? Where in the heck did they learn to drive? Or were they raised the same way they seem to be raising their kids? (I think this almost every time I go to Meijer to shop!)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd like to teach a required college class entitled "Tom's Common Sense 101". This would be a required course for all freshmen, regardless of what their major is. With mandatory attendance (OK, if you absolutely HAD to miss a class or two, I'd understand - but read and do the homework!) And there would be only one test at the end of the course, which would contain questions relating to those "common sense"topics I taught during the semester. Pass or fail - no in-between, that's it, one or the other! Yeah, I'd be a pretty cranky old professor, huh?

Common Sense 101

So for today's reading pleasure, I thought I would take a break from Parkinson's topics; and instead stand up on the old 'bully pulpit' and touch upon just a few of my 101 Common Sense topics that I would teach in this class - hopefully with a little humor! So if you are in college now or going to be starting soon, or have just been 'around the block' a good amount of years, let's see what you think of my 'common sense'!

But first, what exactly IS 'Common Sense'? Wikipedia defines it as,

"... a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that is shared by ("common to") nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without need for debate."

Hmm... OK hopefully THAT makes sense! <grin> Therefore, in no particular order:

#8 Look BOTH ways when crossing the street. I am constantly amazed at both of these types of people: 1. Those who step out right in front of you while you are driving through the parking lot, and they don't even LOOK your way as they walk right out in front of your car! And 2. Those idiots who walk around all day looking down at their cell phone and never seem to know or watch where they are going! Let me tell you, there are some really funny (and painful!) YouTube videos out there of these knuckleheads walking into poles, falling into manholes, getting run over by cars, etc.

So let me put it like this - if you walk out in front of a car and get hit, THE 3000+ POUND CAR WINS EVERY TIME! If you walk into a steel pole, the steel pole wins every time! If you walk into a hole in the ground, pretty much the hole wins every time! Therefore, the best way to avoid looking foolish and appearing on one of these YouTube videos is to keep my rule #8 in mind at all times when venturing out into the world - your body will thank you!!

#101 Don't Run Through The House With Scissors... Or Knives. Our mothers taught us this - I hope. In fact, I can hear my mother now, "Don't run in the house when you have scissors in your hand!! Have you lost your mind??" No mom, just my common sense (at least at that time!).

Scissors or knives are sharp, and if you run though the house with them (especially pointed up) and trip or fall... well, you get the idea!

#3 In This Life, You Will WIN Some, And You Will LOSE Some. This rule really does makes sense - yet in today's society we see it being violated all the time! Especially when it involves kids... how many sports games have kids played where you not only get a trophy for winning but also for losing?? The knuckleheads who make up these game rules think they are doing good because 'Losing would hurt the kid's self-esteem." Really? Or does it simply teach them that they should never lose? So they go through life thinking everything should go their way, and when it doesn't - and it will - they simply can't handle it!

No matter what, in this life, you will lose at something - and in some cases, one loses more than one wins. Get used to it! More importantly, LEARN from the experience, and do better next time. As a gentleman who knew a lot about common sense, Dale Carnegie (1888 - 1955), once said, "Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success."

#14 It's Appropriate To Always Say Thank You or Excuse Me. I'm sure you had this happen: You are going in somewhere, and, being the nice person you are, you open and hold the door for the person behind you. If you're lucky they thank you - but I bet a lot of times they don't even acknowledge you! Or you get rudely bumped into at the mall and the person doing the bumping simply keeps walking like they owned the world! (see Rule #8 - folks looking down at their cell phones do this often) I've often wanted to yell out "Excuuuuuuse Me!!" but usually I just shake my head and go on... (Unless they step on my toe, then... well, let's not go there)

Courtesy seems to have become extinct like the dinosaurs, hasn't it? No one says thank you; no one says excuse me; or even acknowledge that you exist! That is just plain rude - my mama taught me different. There are times with me when this happens over and over - and I get so frustrated that I say to myself, "Nope not going to do it anymore. I'm not saying excuse me or holding the door anymore for no one - let it hit them in the rear as far as I'm concerned!" But alas, you know how long that lasts? Yeah, about 2 seconds - I just can't do it. I've had it drilled into my head by my parents and I just can't help but be courteous. (Well, I'm no saint but at least I try to be)

So even though rudeness is running amok out there, don't forget to say 'thank you' and 'excuse me' when the time presents itself - trust me, you'll receive many rewards for it over time!

#5 Don't Gossip (i.e. Be Careful of Stones That You Throw). There was a time in my life (very much earlier) when I actually liked country music (those of you who know me are probably going 'WHAAAT?' by now!) One of my favorite country singers was Hank Williams (1923 - 1953). Hank made an album one time posing as someone called 'Luke the Drifter'. This album was funny at times, and sad at times - but was full of common sense themes. Once song was called - you guessed it - Be Careful of Stones That You Throw. In this song, a neighbor was passing by one day, and stopped to talk; but Luke could tell that all she had on her mind was gossip. She talked about that girl down the street, the one who drinks and talks quite a lot. She doesn't want her even speaking to her child or herself; she even says the girl should be run out of town!

Later on, Luke hears an automobile going by way too fast, and then screaming brakes. He runs out and finds this same neighbor's only daughter had been pulled from the path of the car, and saved by a young girl who was hit instead and is now laying out in the road. The gossiping neighbor runs out in tears, hugs her child, and cries out 'Who was that brave girl so sweet?' And then, as the song goes... "I covered the crushed broken body and said, 'The bad girl who lives down the street'".

Pretty powerful, huh? Makes sense, right?? I don't think I need to say more on rule #5 - don't gossip, because not only is it not nice, but you are probably no better than those you are gossiping about. And gossip can come back to bite you in the posterior region - or worse!

#9 If You Cross The Railroad Tracks With A Train Coming and Get Hit By The Train, THE TRAIN ALWAYS WINS! This is very similar to my rule #8; yet I hear about people violating this rule at least once a month. They are driving along (or walking), the train crossing signal comes on and the arm goes down, yet these fools try to beat the train! Again, common sense; or, as the Hulk would put it, "Train bigger than car... Train SMASH!!" So don't try it, kids, it isn't worth it to save 5 minutes!!

#24 Don't Spend More Than You Earn. Again, pretty simple, huh - makes perfect sense, you can't spend more than you earn. Yet how many people do we know who seem to have a good job, make good money, but are only barely 'getting by'? But they have the fanciest car, best house, all the fashion clothes, etc. Wonder how they pay for it? Yep, like a lot of Americans, they are in debt up to their eyeballs!

Moral of this rule: Try your best to spend no more than what you earn. Who cares if you have the fanciest car on the block? Trust me, you won't be remembered for that. And the stress of this life will be a LOT less if you don't have to worry about working your fingers to the bone 'keeping up with the neighbors'. Which leads me right into my next rule:

#25 Saving Money Now Means, In Most Cases, You'll Have Some For Later In Life. Therefore Save As Much As You Can as Often as You Can. A lot of young people are probably thinking right now, "Ah, Tom, I'm a young man/woman, and retirement is a LONG way off. I don't have to worry about that now!" Well, let me tell you, I thought the same thing when I was younger. But I remember my Mom telling me, "Son, you're young now, but someday you'll be older - and believe me, time seems to move faster as you get older!" And I thought, "Yeah, Mom, sure..." But, as usual, Mom was right - seems like only yesterday I was a 20-something young handsome (ha!) dude; now, in what seems a blink of an eye, I am near sixty and have Parkinson's disease! Luckily for me, my mom instilled in me the desire to save money for retirement, because she wanted me to be able to live a decent life when that time came. And for me, having PD caused that time to come a LOT sooner than I thought it was! The reason I can retire now - and afford the outrageous health care costs of having Parkinson's - is because I saved and invested that money for many years! So, I'll say again, save as much as you can as often as you can. Put money into that 401K, invest it - because that someday (i.e. retirement) will come sooner than you think. I just read these statistics: Did you know that 56% of Americans have saved less than $10,000?? Or that 1 in every 3 Americans have zero (that's $0.00) saved? Those statistics should be an eye-opener for everyone!

#12 To Gain Knowledge, LISTEN MORE.. Also "Make Sure Brain Is In Gear Before Engaging Mouth". We just don't listen much these days, do we? Myself included... we're listening to someone, and it's all we can do to keep from interrupting them so we can relate our 'big story' about the same topic! Not only is that extremely irritating to the other person, but it is also rude!

Or how many times have we jumped in to 'say our peace' only to find out that's NOT what the other person was saying at all nor what they meant! And yes, I am just as guilty sometimes of this myself. Not only is this is just plain rude, but it can also be embarrassing - and that is where the 'Make sure brain is in gear...' comes into effect. There's been many a time when my brain should be in neutral but was instead stuck in overdrive!

Rather, we need to stop, and truly listen to what others are saying before we 'jump in' to say our two cents. That is one of the best way to make a favorable impression on people; and also to gain knowledge. No one learned anything by only listening to themselves talk!! Isaac F. Marcosson, a journalist who had interviewed hundreds of celebrities, once said about those who don't listen,

"They have been so concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open. Very important people have told me that they prefer good listeners to good talkers, but the ability to listen seems rarer than almost any other good trait."

So remember - listen more and talk less. You'll find it not only helps make new friends, but you'll gain a whole lot more knowledge doing so!

#10 ALWAYS Wear A Helmet When Riding Your Bicycle, Motorcycle, 4-Wheeler, etc. I'm sorry - I probably going to offend any non-helmet wearing motorcyclists out there by this rule... but hey, it is my blog so I have to say my 'Deep Brain Thoughts'. <grin> So...

Back in the early-80's, I had a motorcycle, pictured here:

It wasn't big but it was fun to ride! But one thing that always scared me was having an accident on the dumb thing - with no protection I'd be pretty 'messed up' - which is why I ALWAYS wore my helmet! And this was a full helmet too - one of the kinds that covers your whole head including your mouth.

One day in 1981 I believe, I am riding out in the country, and all of a sudden a dog bolts out from the tall weeds next to the road right in front of my motorcycle! Unfortunately, I couldn't stop - I hit the dog, which then caused me to lay down my bike on the asphalt. I slid about 50 feet with the bike on top of me! Luckily I wasn't badly injured - no broken bones but lots scrapes, bruises, and torn clothing. After having my mom take me to the emergency room (another story in itself), we came back to the house - and it was then that I took a good look at my helmet - all down the right side of the helmet were huge scratches and scrapes! That was where my head had scraped across the asphalt! If I had not had that helmet on, I think I would have left half of my face and brains on the road! And boy, was I then glad that I had that helmet and that it covered my whole head! (BTW, I never rode the motorcycle again - I sold the bike and I was done! Give me a nice steel car to wrap around me while I drive - that's my motto!!)

What's the point of the story? One of the dumbest laws here in Michigan was recently passed - allowing motorcyclists to not wear a helmet if they didn't want to! This, to me anyway, is just a pure violation of common sense - falling off or crashing your vehicle without anything to protect your head means you risk injuring the very essence of yourself - your brain! Look what could have happened to me in my accident!!

In my course - as gross as it would be - students would have to sit through some pictures of those folks who didn't have on a helmet when they crashed whatever they were riding. In addition, they would have to listen to their grieving family if they killed themselves because they didn't have any head protection. Now some may consider that to be 'over the top', I know, but that is the only way for one to really appreciate the value of wearing their helmet! I've had Deep Brain Stimulation - and that is about as far as I want to go to exposing my brain to the open atmosphere!! So my advice - and rule: Wear a helmet at all times when riding... your brain will thank you!

#2 Nothing in this life is 'truly' free. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, my niece Heidi started college a couple of months ago. A couple of weeks before that we met up with them for Sunday dinner, and during the conversation my niece mentioned that their were health centers located around the university and they they were 'free' - no charge to come in and get some medical care if needed. And that got me thinking... Is anything in this life truly free?

After debating it with me, myself, and I (ha - what a trio!) we came to a conclusion - no, nothing is truly free. How many people out in the world have been 'duped' out of their life savings by trying to take advantage of that 'free' investment scheme one sees on the internet all the time? And even if something is free - in the sense there is no charge - there is still the time, fuel, energy, or whatever you have to spend to take advantage of that 'free' item or service. So no, nothing in this life is truly free - there is always a cost of some kind - and remembering that will help keep your mind in perspective and also hopefully keep more money in your pocketbook!

And finally.... drum roll please....

#1 No matter what you do, there is always a consequence! I remember it vividly - when I was a little kid, we used to shop at a department store called Zayre (who out there remembers that store?). One day we went in to shop, and I decided to get a little toy car. Problem was, I didn't have any money to pay for it; so I just took it, put it in my pocket, and left with my mom. In the car, my Mom noticed that something wasn't right with me - Mom's know this, I don't know how but they do - and then she saw I was fiddling around with something in my pocket. When I was asked about it, I lied at first - most kids do, but I finally told the truth - it was a car and I took it from the store. My Mom didn't seem that mad - worse, she seemed terribly disappointed with me, which hurt almost as much as a good spanking would have. Then, being the good Mom she was, she marched me back into that store, and at the front counter LOUDLY announced that her son had stole this toy car and wanted to return it - which I sheepishly did. And by this time, if I remember right, I had tears in my eyes.

Now some parents these days would think that was terrible - my Mom was a bad parent and doing that would leave me scarred for life! And in a way, it did - you see, I learned right then and there that there was a consequence to stealing things - that I would, most likely, get caught... and then I would probably face something much worse than a spanking - in this case, being horribly embarrassed to admit I stole something!! And in the worse case, thrown in jail! This stuck with me for the rest of my life, and I know it was a defining moment when I truly learned there were consequences of what I did - something, unfortunately, a lot of people these days don't seem to know (I always get a kick out of reading about some of the just plain dumb stunts some criminals do!)

No matter if it is good or bad... there is always a consequence to your action, or in-action. We see it on the news too many times - people get caught doing something wrong - even murder - and yet they say it wasn't their fault! Or remember the line in the 70's, 'The devil made me do it!'? These people blame everyone else and simply don't think about what they are doing and the CONSEQUENCES of their actions - not only to themselves but also to others affected by their scheme/crime/etc.

I think I would spend a week on this topic with the students in my Common Sense class, as I believe it is one of the most important lessons in my series. Once you understand this principle, life will be much easier; and it just may keep you out of jail - or even worse!

For Further Study

I forgot to mention what I would require as my 'textbook' for this course - and that would be a book written by the aforementioned Dale Carnegie called 'How To Make Friends And Influence People'. This book was published back in 1937 - yet it has just as much, or maybe even more, influence today as it did then! I would highly encourage you, if you never done so, to buy and read this book. I myself have read it many times, and I always seem to find a little tidbit of important information and common sense that I didn't see before. Trust me, it will impact your life!

Hmm... I may have to buy this book for my niece to read while in college... She's a great young lady, and her parents, I believe, raised her right and followed a lot of my common sense principles... But in today's world we can always use some help and advice, and I can think of nothing better than Dale Carnegie's book.

​​And who knows?? Look out Heidi, maybe one of your required courses next year will be Tom's Common Sense 101!! Make sure you are on time for class and fully prepared - I'm a tough old professor of life!!

Some Notable Quotes By Dale Carnegie

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing."
"Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get."
"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
"It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about."
"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving."
"Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."
About Me

Hi, I'm Tom, from whose brain these Deep Brain Thoughts flow! Thank you for visiting my blog, and keep coming back to enjoy future ramblings!

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Last Updated: 2019-09-11

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