Uncommon sense


“Sort of Niece Week” continues…

A couple of weeks ago, I was coming back from a fun lunch with my older niece at Mikey’s (chili dogs!) and we began one of our usual rambling conversations.

At some point, whether it was on the way people spend money or the way people drive cars or the way people make decisions, my niece said in an exasperated voice, “I would think that would be common sense!”

I quite seriously replied that people don’t seem to use that very often.  In fact, I said, on sudden inspiration, people seem to use UNcommon sense.  We both laughed and the next few minutes were spent coming up with different examples of people using poor judgement.

The conversation was refreshing, in that I got to see how much true common sense my niece actually had.  At the same time, it was a bit disconcerting to realize how often people do things without thinking or, I suppose, not thinking things all the way through.

As a writer, I am familiar with the danger of assuming anything is obvious.  Different emotional states, backgrounds, perspectives and thought processes can combine to make what I believe to be a clear line of text to be misunderstood or misconstrued.  Knowing this, I try to have my own perspective on people’s’ apparent lack of common sense.

But it’s tough sometimes.  And the line between saying someone doesn’t use common sense and being judgemental can be awfully fine.

For example, my niece has a credit card that she tries to pay off each month.  She realizes the longer she pays interest only, the more she gives away her own money and gets nothing back.  As our discussion touched on the problems people have with credit (and credit scores and how they would impact her future), her opinion was that paying off the principal instead of “minimum” payments should be common sense.  Consumer credit numbers in the United States suggest otherwise.  Common sense says:  don’t buy it if you can’t afford it; Uncommon sense says:  buy it and you only have to pay $30 a month (or whatever).  You know who will end up happier in the long run.

We ran through other topics, from school to driving to jobs.  In almost every case, my niece showed a great grasp of common sense; in almost every case, I was able to offer her an example of uncommon sense.  She shook her head disbelievingly, exhibiting wisdom beyond her years.

We concluded the bottom line was to try to think through our decisions before making them.  While this doesn’t guarantee that all our decisions will be correct, it certainly improves the odds of them ending happier.

It’s only common sense!

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