Never underestimate the power of stupid people

A place I hang out at has a small car park. There are some gates with 'No Parking' signs on them. The gates have a 'Keep Clear Emergency Access' sign on them too. The gates, as a very valid health and safety regulation, need to be kept clear of parked cars and the onus of keeping those gates clear falls on a small bunch of volunteers as does the responsibility under the H&S Act.

Astoundingly, people who park here get upset when they are politely asked to move their vehicle. A couple of roading companies donated road cones so the volunteers could dodge the displeasure of the errant parkers.

Despite this choice architecture, to my absolute confoundation... Yep!
(the car on the left is correctly parked)

This reminds me of, many years ago now, when I played at being a 'door tech'. Two of us working on a job, the double swing doors of a commercial building. You probably didn't know but swing doors have a hydraulic spring, usually in the floor, to stop them flapping about in the wind, and as this was Wellington one of these doors was, as the floor-spring had failed.

We removed the door and had erected the required safety cones and barriers and erected the (trip hazard) safety signs, but of course it was a main access way so people had to be able to come and go through the other door.

To my astonishment many people stepped inside our cones and barriers and over us working on the floor to avoid having to open and walk through the perfectly fine working door, that they had to open and enter and exit every other time. The only way we could stop people walking through our work site was to wedge the other door open. This one is simply a 'path of least resistance problem, so creating an even easier path was the solution.

Helen Kelly, (1964-2016) who was President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, campaigned for better workplace health and safety conditions, in an interview on RNZ said, "You can't change people - you have to change systems". Very wise words, hence the cones.

But what do you do with people who know the rules but don't follow them because they either think it doesn't/shouldn't apply to them or it's just not convenient, thanks.

Mr Google, once you get past the hyperbolic labels of psychopathy, puts it down to a narcissistic personality disorder. "Do not expect them to take ordinary responsibility", to ask them to change what they are doing, or to follow the rules is taken as personal criticism". They have "difficulty in admitting mistakes and a tendency to blame others, quick to anger an do not expect them to apologize or make amends or show any consideration for your feelings". 

Cheers Mr Google. But what do you do with people who know the rules but don't follow them because they either think it doesn't/shouldn't apply to them or it's just not convenient.

And how do you deal with the fall out from these people when for the good of the group rules must be enforced?


  1. At least the cones are still there, albeit with idiot.

    We are renovating a property which necessitated a large resin-producing trailer attached to truck having easy and close access early the following day. As we don't stay there overnight I purchased a traffic cone and placed it outside the property to ward off potential parkers. David passed the property half an hour after we left. "I see you didn't opt for the traffic cone after all, " he says.

    Nicked. Within minutes.

    I know. Naive.


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