You Are Responsible For You

 

Something bad happened next door. Best to just stay put, at least that is what the experts are telling you. Things are dangerous out on the side walk. Debris is falling from the building next to you. You are safe and secure in your office 86 floors up. Stay put and all will be well. “Your attention, please, ladies and gentlemen. Building Two is secure. There is no need to evacuate Building Two. If you are in the midst of evacuation, you may use the reentry doors and the elevators to return to your office. Repeat, Building Two is secure.” That is the message from the building’s security team. Stay put, what could go wrong?

Something inside of you says, “No. I don’t want to be here. I’m getting out.” You head to the elevators, down to the lobby. As you open the doors to the outside police officers yell to you, “Run!” You run. You see things that will haunt you for years. Jumpers landing with loud thuds. You are out. In another minute you see a plane crash into your building. You are alive because you disobeyed the experts.

This is more or less what happened to a relative of mine on 9/11/01. He did what he thought was best for him. The people who told them to stay put had no reason to think another plane was coming. Even before the second plane hit, the Port Authority Police changed their order and began evacuations of all the buildings in the WTC when they realized how serious the damage was on the first tower. Still, that was ten minutes later and for people on the upper floors, those minutes mattered.

Sometimes well-meaning experts are wrong. Ultimately, the only one responsible for you is you. Obviously, refusing to accept the wisdom of others is often a mistake. But are there examples in your life where ignoring what everyone else tells you ended up being the best move you could have made?

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There are 14 comments.

  1. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    The Left has totally debased the meaning of “expert”, and now I pay NO attention to anything attributed to any expert whom I do not know personally.

    • #1
    • September 12, 2019, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    The Left has totally debased the meaning of “expert”, and now I pay NO attention to anything attributed to any expert whom I do not know personally.

    Not just “the left.” (Although Tom Nichols really can’t be considered on the right anymore, can he?)

    • #2
    • September 12, 2019, at 8:21 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Post author

    Another guy I knew who got out had his team go right to the stairs as soon as he heard something. He was there in ’93 so he followed the same routine.

    • #3
    • September 12, 2019, at 9:38 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. PHenry Member

    What possible reason would there be to tell people in a burning building to stay put and wait for emergency personnel? It’s akin to telling people not to own weapons for self defense, just rely on the police. It shows an irrational over dependence on government and authority. Don’t worry, just stay put and big daddy government will come save you! Never mind the smoke and flames and heat, we are on the way!

    I realize that they (emergency 911 operators) didn’t know what the conditions were, but even more so. If the building you are in is burning, calmly but quickly move toward the exits. No matter what the ‘experts’ tell you! 

    • #4
    • September 12, 2019, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. SkipSul Moderator

    Vance Richards: But are there examples in your life where ignoring what everyone else tells you ended up being the best move you could have made?

    Happens all the time in business, and I’ve been at both ends of it. There have been company decisions I’ve made, against howls of protest from employees or partners, that proved to be right, and there have been times when I’ve been spectacularly wrong on things too, when everyone around me was predicting as much.

    Sometimes we see clearly, sometimes we don’t, and there is incredible danger in looking backwards at our successes against the odds if we discount where we also failed. It’s never an easy call.

    There’s a running joke about what makes for a “successful” macro-economist: he’s the one who correctly predicted 13 of the last 1 recessions (his name is Paul Krugman, BTW). It rather illustrates how we do have to be careful to not magnify the importance of the fluke – the experts are experts based on experience, and the odds don’t change just because we beat them. Being right (even spectacularly right) that one time is no guarantee we’ll be right the next.

    • #5
    • September 12, 2019, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Post author

    When I was little, my sister got some type of stomach flu. My parents took her to a doctor who laughed at them and said, “Kids get stomach aches, it’s no big deal.” Later that evening my parents took her to the Emergency room. The ER doctor said, “Good thing you got her here. She probably wouldn’t have made it to the morning.” So, I think parents (at least Moms) know best when it comes to their kids.

    On the flip side, I have known parents who rushed their kid to the doctor every time they sniffled (that usually happens with a first child). My son was one of the best tempered babies I have ever seen. At one point as he grew, he became more disobedient and destructive. During a normal office visit my wife mentioned his behavior to the doctor. In this case the doctor’s diagnosis was the correct one. He looked at my son and then said to my wife, “He’s three.”

    • #6
    • September 12, 2019, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor

    In speaking only for myself, it depends on who the expert is, how serious the issue appears to be (such as life or death), and the effect of my decision on others (given I’m not a business owner). In medical cases, one can get a second or third opinion. In the case of a building hit by an airplane, with an “expert” who is likely experiencing that for the first time, I hope I’d run like heck.

    • #7
    • September 12, 2019, at 10:47 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. OldPhil Coolidge

    PHenry (View Comment):

    What possible reason would there be to tell people in a burning building to stay put and wait for emergency personnel? It’s akin to telling people not to own weapons for self defense, just rely on the police. It shows an irrational over dependence on government and authority. Don’t worry, just stay put and big daddy government will come save you! Never mind the smoke and flames and heat, we are on the way!

    I realize that they (emergency 911 operators) didn’t know what the conditions were, but even more so. If the building you are in is burning, calmly but quickly move toward the exits. No matter what the ‘experts’ tell you!

    The announcement was made in the second building before it was hit.

    • #8
    • September 12, 2019, at 12:25 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Paul Erickson Member

    PHenry (View Comment):

    What possible reason would there be to tell people in a burning building to stay put and wait for emergency personnel? It’s akin to telling people not to own weapons for self defense, just rely on the police. It shows an irrational over dependence on government and authority. Don’t worry, just stay put and big daddy government will come save you! Never mind the smoke and flames and heat, we are on the way!

    I realize that they (emergency 911 operators) didn’t know what the conditions were, but even more so. If the building you are in is burning, calmly but quickly move toward the exits. No matter what the ‘experts’ tell you!

    I’m by no means an expert, but was the “fire warden” for the 20th floor of the building where I worked. In our training, it was explained that modern buildings have very effective fire suppression systems, and building design helps contain most fires. They only evacuate three floors (floor where fire is detected, one above, one below.) The reason is that a mass evacuation from all floors makes it extremely difficult for fire fighters to get to the fire.

    Obviously WTC on 9/11 was an outlier. But for the vast majority of cases, the experts do know what they are talking about.

    • #9
    • September 13, 2019, at 5:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. PHenry Member

    OldPhil (View Comment):
    The announcement was made in the second building before it was hit.

    I just watched a documentary on 9/11. In it were 911 call recordings from the first building, before the second was hit. They were being told to stay put, emergency personnel were on the way. Some of the callers argued they were being overcome by smoke, etc, and the response was to stuff something under the door. 

    It may have been the standard advice for a burning high rise, but it was not just people in the second, not yet burning, building being told to stay in the building. 

    911 operators have no choice but give standard advice. They can’t know the actual situation, they are only relying on a callers information. So I’m not blaming them. I’m just saying that if my building is on fire, I’m moving towards the exit. No matter what someone miles away on the phone tells me. 

    • #10
    • September 13, 2019, at 6:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Post author

    PHenry (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):
    The announcement was made in the second building before it was hit.

    I just watched a documentary on 9/11. In it were 911 call recordings from the first building, before the second was hit. They were being told to stay put, emergency personnel were on the way. Some of the callers argued they were being overcome by smoke, etc, and the response was to stuff something under the door.

    It may have been the standard advice for a burning high rise, but it was not just people in the second, not yet burning, building being told to stay in the building.

    911 operators have no choice but give standard advice. They can’t know the actual situation, they are only relying on a callers information. So I’m not blaming them. I’m just saying that if my building is on fire, I’m moving towards the exit. No matter what someone miles away on the phone tells me.

    I do remember hearing this long ago. The person I wrote about in the OP was in the second tower to get hit, but even in the first I don’t think they immediately started and evacuation of the entire building. As you say, “standard advice” but there is nothing standard about a jet full of fuel.

    • #11
    • September 13, 2019, at 6:45 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Suspira Member

    This has haunted me since that day. I know—KNOW—I would have obeyed the voice of authority. I would have perished, because I think an expert must be right. My instincts must be wrong. 

    Trust your instincts, people say. But my instinct is to run when I should drop and roll, to freeze when I should run, to steer against the direction of the skid. 

    I can only hope I’m never in a situation where trusting an authority versus trusting my instinct is a matter of life and death.

    • #12
    • September 13, 2019, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. OldPhil Coolidge

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    PHenry (View Comment):

    OldPhil (View Comment):
    The announcement was made in the second building before it was hit.

    I just watched a documentary on 9/11. In it were 911 call recordings from the first building, before the second was hit. They were being told to stay put, emergency personnel were on the way. Some of the callers argued they were being overcome by smoke, etc, and the response was to stuff something under the door.

    It may have been the standard advice for a burning high rise, but it was not just people in the second, not yet burning, building being told to stay in the building.

    911 operators have no choice but give standard advice. They can’t know the actual situation, they are only relying on a callers information. So I’m not blaming them. I’m just saying that if my building is on fire, I’m moving towards the exit. No matter what someone miles away on the phone tells me.

    I do remember hearing this long ago. The person I wrote about in the OP was in the second tower to get hit, but even in the first I don’t think they immediately started and evacuation of the entire building. As you say, “standard advice” but there is nothing standard about a jet full of fuel.

    Yeah, my comment was just repeating your OP. 

    • #13
    • September 13, 2019, at 1:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Quietpi Member

    Paul Erickson (View Comment):

    PHenry (View Comment):

    What possible reason would there be to tell people in a burning building to stay put and wait for emergency personnel? It’s akin to telling people not to own weapons for self defense, just rely on the police. It shows an irrational over dependence on government and authority. Don’t worry, just stay put and big daddy government will come save you! Never mind the smoke and flames and heat, we are on the way!

    I realize that they (emergency 911 operators) didn’t know what the conditions were, but even more so. If the building you are in is burning, calmly but quickly move toward the exits. No matter what the ‘experts’ tell you!

    I’m by no means an expert, but was the “fire warden” for the 20th floor of the building where I worked. In our training, it was explained that modern buildings have very effective fire suppression systems, and building design helps contain most fires. They only evacuate three floors (floor where fire is detected, one above, one below.) The reason is that a mass evacuation from all floors makes it extremely difficult for fire fighters to get to the fire.

    Obviously WTC on 9/11 was an outlier. But for the vast majority of cases, the experts do know what they are talking about.

    Sometimes “the experts” decide that the best way to remain “experts” in their own heads is to ignore the obvious. The events of 9/11/01 were predicted years before, in stunning detail. The people who did so were ignored. The Port Authority ignored recommendations that they make fire escape stairwells wider. If you haven’t read the story of Rick Rescorla, do it right now. Here’s the Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Rescorla

    Then get the book, Ripley: “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why.” You’ll learn how Rescorla literally, single-handedly, saved nearly every employee of Morgan Stanley.

    If you’re involved in any way with emergency services, and you haven’t read that book, you’re too late.

    • #14
    • September 15, 2019, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes