When good rules go bad

The idea for tonight’s post actually began about 18 months ago after Picasso started school.

After complaining about the amount of rules at “big school”, he told me about one he found particularly confounding – he had to hold a classmate’s hand on the walk from the classrooms to the bus shelters.

“It’s silly,” he told me, “because then two people will get lost instead of one.”

Now, I did smother a laugh in my hand, but how could I argue with that logic? I agreed it was indeed a preposterous rule, risking, as it did, two young lives instead of just one.

So, skip forward to today, when I drive to work and am as usual confronted with the three thousand 5km/h signs in the basement car park.

Now, let’s just take a moment. I get that no one wants hoons speeding down 10 winding basement levels. But I must ask – has anyone ever driven at 5km per hour? It’s not actually possible. It’s like the car does this weird thing where it can’t actually move forward but it’s not actually stopped. Your foot is perched between brake and accelerator and starts jerking spasmodically between the two because you’re not sure which one you should be pressing. Your eyes are glued to the speedometer so you can’t pay attention to anything else and are in far more danger of becoming a safety hazard than if you picked up the pace to the hair-raising speed of, say, 8km per hour, and were ACTUALLY DRIVING.

And here’s another rule  – nowadays you are not allowed to hang your jacket over your chair. It’s not just a recommendation – it’s a RULE. A colleague of mine, who had – quite brazenly – draped her jacket in such a fashion got reported and “spoken to” about it. Now let me be clear – her jacket was not a floor-length, Cruella De Ville-type affair, it was a SUIT JACKET.

Possibly the best example of a nonsensical “non-rule” comes from my time at high school, when a Head Teacher decided to give the students a dressing-down for not wearing their school hats (in the days when hat-wearing was voluntary).

“If you DON’T wear your hats,” I can remember him thundering, with all the fervor of Maggie Beer with a bottle of verjuice – “I will make them compulsory!”

Um, I kind of think you just did.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I like rules. I am Navy, not Pirate – I generally abide by rules even when I don’t understand why they’re there. But – secretly – I think I’m with Picasso. Because after his lament about the school rules, I asked him if he was going to obey them anyway.

He gave a cheeky grin, and said,

“Yes…for now.”

2 thoughts on “When good rules go bad

  1. Jess

    How on earth did not hanging your coat on the back of your chair become a rule… and one that you will actually be ‘spoken’ to if you break? I don’t understand why? That’s as crazy as the rule in a US State that it’s illegal whistle under water!

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