Friday, 26 November 2010

theory and practice

Mark Twain observed that, “Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.” This rings quite true for quite a bit of the annual mandatory refresher training that they expose us to at work—dry, rote and predictable and just enough delaying tactics to bring down a lawsuit settlement in appeals. After making an obligatory appearance at a drug and alcohol awareness class, which in all fairness featured a quite funny stand-up comedian whose message was important and appreciated, though possibly just endured for those who were seeing basically the same routine for the fourth time, I realized that these required audiences, not so insufferable, are like holiday traditions, unquestioned, like watching Dinner for One (Der 90. Geburtstag) on New Year’s or It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas time. I did realize, more by its breach than in its keeping, I did miss out of this year’s winter driving safety, which was no less a chore to schedule around but anything but stale delivered by our German safety officer who speaks like Colonel Klink. And if no one takes anyway anything else from that course, replete with PowerPoint slides, he always quotes statistics that drivers, though one would expect that they are expert and accustomed to wintery conditions, panic during the first snow flurry of the year, which we are receiving now, only to decline in number of accidents and incidents as the season continues and as the roads become even more treacherous, regardless of how many hard winters, tyres swapped out, and otherwise girding themselves for danger. Maybe that says something about practice in itself.