Are We Becoming a Nation of "Fraidy Cats?"

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

I was having a beer with my old friend Max the other day and he was on a rip.

"Everybody is scared of his own shadow these days. Did you read in the paper about a fireman who saw a woman in danger of drowning but wouldn't jump in to save her because he did not have an up-to-date blikety-blank certificate? The poor s.o.b. was afraid that he would be liable for a lawsuit if the woman was injured." "Yea, we live in a litigious society," I said.

"That ain't the half of it," continued Max, warming up to the subject. "It's not just the lawyers. "We're all becoming scardy cats. I took my kid to an A's game the other day and I see this lady almost dragging her boy (he looked about 11 years old) into the ladies room. "Mom, I want to use the guys restroom," the kid argued but mom was adamant. "No. It's safer with me." "Can you beat that?

There were dozens of guys going in and out of the men's room. Did she really think some pervert was waiting inside to abuse her kid? And even on the 1000 to 1 chance that a weirdo was waiting inside, didn't she have enough trust in men in general to know that at least one of those guys, most of them dads, for god's sake, would have intervened?" I had to agree with Max, going to a public rest room with my mom when I was eleven would have been a nightmare.

"That ain't all," said Max, "not only are we seeing a pedophile behind every bush, we're over the top when it comes to germs." "Germs? I questioned. "Yea, didn't you notice all these sanitize dispensers around? So help me, they even have them in churches. Wouldn't you think religious folk would have more trust in God than in a squirt from a germ killer? We live in fear, I'm telling you."

Max had another beer. "The problem is, there are way too many lawyers in our country. Know what I mean? There are thousands of them out there writing warning labels on everything from milk to medicines to plastic bags, to kids pj's. First, it was just cigarette packages with a warning from the Surgeon General. Now, you can't buy anything without being warned about its danger.

"You think we've gone a little overboard?" I asked Max. "A LITTLE overboard? We have lost our freakin heads. I opened a can of Campbell's soup the other day. Sure enough there was a caution written on the can. Know what it said?" "No, what?" I replied. "Caution: Product and container will be hot. Use potholders and handle carefully to avoid burns." Max was beside himself. "Is that the dumbest thing in the world to put on a can of soup or what? OF COURSE THE SOUP WILL BE HOT WHEN YOU PUT IT ON THE STOVE TO HEAT IT. We need to be warned that it will be hot? Oh, Man!"

As Max went to open another beer, I couldn't resist pointing to the label on his brew:

"Consumption of alcohol impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause other health problems." Max gave me a disgusted look "Yea, I know." He muttered. "It's enough to make a grown man cry."