Why I Don’t Wear A Seat Belt

seatbelt

So, when I was about 16 or so I saw a guy flip a Camaro.

It was on a country Texas road (we call them FMs as in Farm-to-Market), and it was dark outside. Me and my cronies were the only people that witnessed the carnage. The Camaro was heading towards us. It hit a ditch on the right hand side then crossed traffic and hit the other ditch, flipped in the air and rolled 10-12 times until it rested upright.

As we walked towards the car, the lights were on, the radio was blaring and the roof was completely flattened. If someone was in the car, they were most likely dead or headless. The driver’s door was open and viola… no one was in the car. I reached in, turned off the engine and turned down Bon Jovi.

I was with a crew of guys. Dastardly bunch of heathens. Living in a dry county in Texas… we were making our pilgrimage to a wet county (county where it is permitted to sell beer, wine and hard liquor). We walked around the car a few times, perplexed by what was happening and all of a sudden an older man appeared out of nowhere. He was wearing a suit–the tie was purposely loosened and his shirt was untucked. He had a rocks glass in one hand… and I swear it still had ice in it.

He told us “I lost control and jumped out after the first ditch.” Jumped out, I thought, he just said, “Screw it, I’m outta here, grabbed his Seven & 7 and bailed.” I automatically envied him… his swagger and boldness. Wreck the car, save the drink.

He asked us not to call the police. He’d take care of the matter. It was a personal matter of course. He gave us some money for our troubles. We packed back in the truck and took off for Lake Dallas (closest liquor store that would sell to underage hooligans). The extra cash funded an unreasonable amount of MD 20/20. Fights were fought, buildings were vandalized and skirts were lifted that weekend.

Well, that weekend and every other weekend of my formative years. Welcome to Texas, y’all.

Back to the story at hand…

That car accident has remained in the forefront of my mind for the last 30 years. In fact, I don’t normally wear a seat belt because of that event. For some reason, I get the sense of claustrophobia with a belt across my chest. It itches my entire chest area and my breathing intensifies. I know it’s all in my mind. The anxiety brought on by wearing a strap. And I know I should be smarter and safer.

For most people wearing a safety belt, it’s damn near an involuntary action. Not for me. Nothing is easy with me. My mind can’t turn off that memory. I constantly think about that guy who thwarted destiny by NOT having a belt on. It’s like the belt equals less options or something. When I wear a seat belt, I think about the seat belt. More to the point, my thinking is off when I wear a safety belt. In some ways, I feel safer so I let my mind drift a bit… which is completely dangerous. I’ll start to day dream while driving 90 miles an hour. No bueno.

Here’s what I do know: When I don’t wear a seat belt I’m more in the moment. More aware. I’m a professional defensive driver. I know where everyone is and how to drive safety. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m a better driver without a seat belt than with one. Weird, right? Dumb, right?

It’s common sense to wear safety belts. It’s also the law. I get all of that. But it doesn’t freaking work for me. To date, I’ve never been involved in an accident, nor have I been ticketed for not wearing my seat belt. Most of you reading this article think that I’m an idiot. I get that. The math doesn’t quite add up. Odds favor those that consistently wear safety belts versus those that don’t. I know that. And, I know you’re right. I want to be in the moment while also being safe. To date, I haven’t figured out a great recipe for both.

What does this have to do with HR? Well, that’s up to you.

As an HR leader, what do you do that is contrary to popular thought/opinion and what justifications do you make? The story above is odd but true. If you’re reading FOT, you’re a freak like me… so come clean with your freaky deaky.

FOT Background Check

William Tincup
WILLIAM TINCUP, SPHR. William is the CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. William is one of the country’s leading thinkers on social media application for human resources, an expert on adoption of HR technology and damn fine marketer. William has been blogging about HR related issues since 2007. He’s a contributor to Fistful of Talent, HRTechEurope and HRExaminer and also co-hosts a daily HR podcast called DriveThruHR. Tweet him @williamtincup and check him out on Facebook and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Insynctive, Causecast, Work4Labs, PeopleReport, Jurify, TrackMaven, SocialEars, AppLearn, StrengthsInsight, The Workforce Institute, PeopleMatter, SmartRecruiters, Ajax Workforce Marketing and is a 2013 Council Member for The Candidate Experience Awards. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Chequed and is a startup mentor for Acceleprise. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned a MA from the University of Arizona and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

12 Comments

  1. Kris Dunn
    Kris Dunn says:

    I love it when people say they’re safer without seatbelts. I get the stories, etc, but it never ceases to amaze me.

    There are so many things I could say. But they’ll have to wait for a personal conversation with WJT, so the rest of the world doesn’t consider me a total freaking heathen.

    K

    Reply
  2. Saniyyah says:

    Hands down the best article on FOT to date. I so can relate to this article on many levels besides the tangible literal one. This has me thinking, where in my life, put HR aside for a moment, am I wearing my seat belt and turning off my awareness because its “safer” but is it? Who knows this article though has me really thinking about this whole “safety” thing. Don’t get me wrong I will still wear my seat belt (literally) but figuratively speaking I will choose to be more aware than “safe” by the standards of man…….thanks for helping me delve deeper into consciousness……

    Reply
  3. Colleen Fitzgerald says:

    WOW—great article! So—I do wear my seat belt religiously. However—I was in a few minor accidents when I first received my license. I vividly remember (super slow motion)—taking my seat belt off and jumping into the passenger seat while a car was coming through the driver’s door—while thinking—man, this is going to hurt. Low-Mid rules.

    Safety is good—but cat like reflexes—even better.

    Reply
  4. Seth says:

    One of my favorite posts. Ever. Cheers to the freaks that are willing to push the boundaries of the standard default mode of life AND HR. I’m still wearing seatbelt though.

    Reply
  5. kd says:

    Alternative view…. Tyler Durden in fight club puts his seat belt on when he KNOWS he’s going to crash…

    http://vimeo.com/11064775 (go to 2:30 for the quick version)

    k

    Reply
  6. CL says:

    Wonderfully written. MD20/20 – that brings back “some” memories. I wear my seatbelt – when I became a Mom I figured I better do what I can to keep myself on the planet since I was responsible for 3 little lives beside my own. Even though the kids are adults I still wear it. I live in the Rocky Mtns and the idea of being run off the canyon road and careening down a mountain without a safety belt terrifies me – jeep roll cage or not. I suppose there are arguments on both sides of the issue. My cousin fell asleep behind the wheel and fell over onto the passenger seat as he did – good thing because he went under a semi and the entire top of his car was sheared off. He walked away a bit surprised but completely intact. Had he been wearing his seat belt… well things would’ve been quite different.

    Reply
  7. Cara Carroll says:

    I half way wear my seat belt. I don’t like it going across my neck, I feel like I am being choked so I put it under my arm. So what does this say about me? I think it says I am not a risk taker, I won’t go without the belt completely, but I don’t like to do things the “normal” way or the same way everyone else does. Who knows? Maybe I am reading into this too much…

    Reply

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