Much sad thought this morning on the death of a caver in something called the “Nutty Putty” cave, over near Tooele somewhere.
We aren’t covering it, but the SL Tribulation has a story here (click!) and of course the Internet is all over it because of the obvious tragedy: Photogenic young father, pregnant wife/girlfriend, sad death in a hole in the ground especially after they thought they had him rescued at one point.
Plus, I’m claustrophobic, so this story gives me the willies. Stuck in a hole at a 60-degree head-down angle in pitch dark is my idea of hell, pure and simple.
This story gives one pause to wonder, at what point should you quit doing that sort of thing?
OK, I’m not saying a married person should become a monk, never doing anything that’s in the least bit dangerous. Heck, I ride bicycles on Utah streets, a practice this caver probably felt was on a par with wriggling into a hole in the ground.
On the other hand, there comes a point when prudence dictates you balance risks with consequences. Despite Utah drivers’ collective best efforts, I’ve never been hit by a car (knock on wood) because I exercise as much prudence as I can, follow all the rules, and pretty much assume they’re trying to kill me.
It is amazing how vigorously people defend their right to risk their lives.
Every time I do a column demanding helmets on motorcyclists, for example, I hear from guys who say “Hey, it’s my head, my life!” My response is always “but it’s not your medical bills, not your funeral, not your sorrow, and not your life of abject poverty if your wife is left berift because you exercised your freedom to ride without a helmet and got your head bashed in.”
When my wife and I got married I promised her that I’d never go to a battlefield. At the time it seemed like a safe bet, since we weren’t at war with anyone and the S-E doesn’t normally send people to Iran or Iraq anyway.
Then, about five years ago, an acquaintance offered to pay my way to go with him to Israel and Palestine to visit the war zones there. I declined, partially because I don’t feel comfortable letting someone else pay a tab like that for me, but also because “I don’t do war zones,” and cited my promise.
Covering a war would be a great opportunity to do some really good stories, but I have this desire to see my grandchildren. My grandchildren outweigh any professional consideration. Any story I do for the paper would be quickly forgotten, but my grandchildren will be there for a very long time.
So it is with things like caving, or mountain climbing, or jet airplane flying, or any of the other many dangerous games people play. If you’re doing something like that for the thrill, but you have a bunch of people off to the side hoping that you survive because, well, your thrill’s failure could destroy their lives, it may be time to ease back just a bit, maybe say “You know, that hole looks awfully small, why take the chance?”
Or at least let someone younger, and dumber, and with no dependants, go first, just to check the waters, as it were.